Top Turkish civil society figure held at Istanbul airport: reports

Turkish businessman Osman Kavala. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 19 October 2017
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Top Turkish civil society figure held at Istanbul airport: reports

ISTANBUL: Turkish police on Thursday detained a businessman who is one of the country’s leading civil society figures, reports said, raising fresh alarm over freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Osman Kavala was detained at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport after flying in from the southern city of Gaziantep, the Dogan news agency said.
Kavala is the chairman of the Anadolu Kultur (Anatolian Culture) NGO which aims to overcome differences within Turkish society especially through culture and the arts.
The organization has also sought to reach out to Armenia, with whom Turkey has no relations partly due to the dispute over the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire which Yerevan regards as genocide.
Dogan news agency said Kavala had been in Gaziantep to discuss a project with Germany’s cultural outreach organization the Goethe Institut.
It said he was detained in line with an investigation by Istanbul prosecutors, without giving further details.
The arrest comes as concern intensifies over the fate of Turkish civil society under the state of emergency imposed after last year’s failed coup that aimed to oust Erdogan.
Eleven human rights activists, including the two top figures from Amnesty International’s Turkey branch, will go on trial in Istanbul next week on hugely-controversial terror charges.
Meanwhile, 156 journalists, most detained under the state of emergency, are currently behind bars, according to the P24 activist group.
Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said on Twitter the arrest of Kavala was the “latest attack on civil society in Turkey.”
“Osman Kavala has worked tirelessly to build reconciliation, dialogue and support the rule of law in Turkey,” added Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch.
Reports said Kavala was born in Paris but took over the family business when his father died. He is also the co-founder of the Iletisim publishing house.


Hezbollah leader boasts group has ‘highly accurate’ missiles

Updated 24 min 49 sec ago
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Hezbollah leader boasts group has ‘highly accurate’ missiles

BEIRUT: The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah is boasting the group possesses “highly accurate” missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.
Hassan Nasrallah spoke in a televised speech on Thursday to supporters commemorating Ashoura, one of the most important religious holy days for Shiite Muslims.
Nasrallah says Israel knows the regional balance of power has changed, and that recent Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring those weapons failed because this “has already been achieved.”
He says Hezbollah now has “highly accurate ... missiles” and that, should Israel impose a war on Lebanon, “it will face a fate and a reality it never expected.”
Israel worries Hezbollah has been improving its capabilities and increased its strikes in Syria to prevent weapons shipments to the group.