The Alliance of Civil Society Organizations in Germany has also called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to take up the issue directly with President Erdoğan and to press for the immediate and unconditional release of Osman Kavala in accordance with the ECHR ruling. The Alliance is also calling for the release of the writer Ahmet Altan and the politician and author Selahattin Demirtaş, who remain in custody although in their cases, too, well-known international lawyers’ associations are demanding that they be freed. The German Federal Government should work at all levels for the release of all political prisoners and press for respect for the rule of law and human rights in Turkey.
Osman Kavala has dedicated his life to promoting civil society and culture in Turkey. Over the past 30 years, he has supported numerous independent human rights organizations and co-founded a number of civil society organizations and publishing houses, including the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly (now called the Citizens' Assembly) for the promotion of human rights, Anadolu Kültür - one of the country's largest cultural foundations for the promotion of cultural understanding in Turkey - and the İletişim publishing house, which publishes literature and non-fiction that often deals with taboo subjects in Turkish society.
The case of Kavala and his co-defendants is just one example of the Turkish government's crackdown on its critics. Since the failed coup attempt in July 2016, some 1,500 organizations and foundations have been closed. Peaceful protests are suppressed, and anyone who criticizes the government must expect arrest. Currently, more than 130 media workers are in prison. Since July 2016, almost 130,000 public service employees have been dismissed for alleged "connections with terrorist organizations".
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Cologne, January 28, 2020
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