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.


UN envoy to Yemen says agreement on de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah ‘not there yet’

Updated 15 min 58 sec ago
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UN envoy to Yemen says agreement on de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah ‘not there yet’

LONDON: United Nations Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said on Monday that agreement on the de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah are ‘not there yet’.
Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm, following the first round of the UN sponsored peace talks between the legitimate Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, Griffiths told reporters that they will continue to discuss Hodeidah and Taiz.
He also said they are still working to find a common ground for the reopening of Sanaa airport.
During the talks, the two sides discussed a broad prisoner swap, however, Griffiths said the numbers of prisoners to be released by the warring parties will be announced soon.
The UN envoy said he expects to present a detailed plan for the next round of talks and hopes for an agreement from warring factions to hold the next round of talks early next year.