Turkish activists reject ‘irrational’ indictment against top businessman

The 2013 Gezi Park protests were the biggest threat to Erdogan’s rule. (AFP/File)
Updated 11 March 2019
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Turkish activists reject ‘irrational’ indictment against top businessman

  • The businessman faces a life sentence if convicted
  • A series of national protests erupted after the Gezi Park protests in 2013

ISTANBUL: Turkish activists behind mass 2013 anti-government protests on Monday rejected as “irrational” and “illegal” an indictment against prominent Turkish businessman Osman Kavala on charges he sought to overthrow the state.
Kavala, in pre-trial detention since 2017, is accused of ties to the protests which erupted over development plans for an Istanbul park and grew into a major challenge to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was premier at the time and is now president.
Turkish prosecutors are demanding life imprisonment for Kavala and 15 others on charges of attempting to topple the government. Erdogan accuses the philanthropist of financing “the terrorists.”
“This irrational and unlawful bill of indictment must be withdrawn immediately,” Mucella Yapici, spokeswoman for the Taksim Solidarity activist group, told a press conference in Istanbul.
She said the suspects “must be released immediately.”
Western governments accuse Erdogan’s government of eroding rights especially since a 2016 failed coup and the mass arrests and purge of tens of thousands of people from the public sector that followed.
The so-called Gezi Park rallies constituted the biggest challenge against Erdogan’s government, and snowballed into nationwide protests against the country’s rulers.
The police response drew criticism from Turkey’s Western allies.
In 2015, a Turkish court acquitted 26 defendants on trial for their involvement in the Gezi protests — most of them were members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform.
“We reject your futile efforts to smear Gezi!” said Yapici. “Gezi is this land’s hope for equality, freedom and justice.”
“We will never allow you to recast the Gezi resistance as an action associated with crime, terror, coups or insurrections.”
The trial of Kavala and 15 others will begin on June 24.
A respected figure in intellectual circles in Turkey and abroad, Kavala is chairman of the Anadolu Kultur (Anatolian Culture) foundation.


Russian air strike kills 16 civilians in northwest Syria

Updated 27 min 21 sec ago
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Russian air strike kills 16 civilians in northwest Syria

  • At least 35 other people were wounded in the raid that hit “a wholesale vegetable market in the town of Maaret Al-Numan”
  • The rebel-held northwest Syria has been the target of months of regime and Russian bombardment

BEIRUT: A Russian air strike on a market in northwest Syria killed 16 civilians on Monday, a monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the country’s last major opposition bastion.
At least 35 other people were wounded in the raid that hit “a wholesale vegetable market in the town of Maaret Al-Numan,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.