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

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“This irrational and unlawful bill of indictment must be withdrawn immediately,” Mucella Yapici, spokeswoman for the Taksim Solidarity activist group, told a press conference in Istanbul.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.


Libya airport hit by drone and rocket fire; 2 Haftar troops killed

Updated 15 September 2019

Libya airport hit by drone and rocket fire; 2 Haftar troops killed

  • LNA has been battling since early April to seize Tripoli from GNA forces

TRIPOLI: An airport near the Libyan capital was hit by a new round of rocket fire and airstrikes, the Tripoli-based government said on Saturday, two weeks after it was closed due to repeated attacks.

Separately, two commanders of the Libya National Army (LNA) were killed in a drone strike while trying to capture the capital Tripoli.

The drone strike took place in the town of Tarhouna, southeast of Tripoli. The town has been the main base of the LNA since it lost Gharyan town south of Tripoli.

The Tripoli government and LNA both confirmed that two Tarhouna-based commanders — Mohsen Al-Kani, head of the Kaniyat armed group, and Abdelwahab Al-Magri, head of the 9th brigade — died in the strike. A brother of Kani was also killed.

Both armed groups had teamed up with the LNA whose forces control the east with the help of a parallel government and were key to the Tripoli campaign, analysts said.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) accused forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind Saturday’s attacks on Mitiga airport, but did not report any casualties.

BACKGROUND

The Tripoli government and LNA both confirmed that two Tarhouna-based commanders — Mohsen Al-Kani, head of the Kaniyat armed group, and Abdelwahab Al-Magri, head of the 9th brigade — died in the strike.

A drone airstrike hit the airport early on Saturday morning, followed by “Grad rockets launched by (pro-Haftar) militia,” the GNA said on Facebook.

The former military air base had been Tripoli’s sole functioning airport until a rocket attack on Sept. 1 wounded four civilians including three pilgrims returning from Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a string of similar incidents.

Authorities responded by diverting flights to Misrata, 200 km to the east, until further notice.

The LNA has been battling since early April to seize the capital from pro-GNA forces.

The two sides have since become embroiled in a stalemate in the capital’s southern outskirts.

Haftar’s forces, which accuse the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes, say they are targeting “Turkish drones” being launched from the airport to attack their troops in southern Tripoli.

The GNA’s Interior Ministry has identified at least 11 attacks on Mitiga since June 21, not including Saturday’s incident.

The Tripoli-based GNA called Saturday’s attack a “desperate attempt” at revenge for losses sustained the previous day.

Since April, the fighting around Tripoli has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.