Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Oct. 6 visited Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) lawmaker Can Atalay, philanthropist Osman Kavala, and urban planner Tayfun Kahraman who have been held in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison because of their convictions in Gezi Parkı case.
Turkey's top appeals court on Sept. 28 upheld the life sentence for Kavala and an 18-year sentence for Atalay and Kahraman on the charges of "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey,” during 2013 nationwide anti-government protests.
CHP deputy chair and Ankara MP Semra Dinçer, parliamentary group deputy chair Ali Mahir Başarır, and Istanbul provincial chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu accompanied Kılıçdaroğlu during the visit.
Following his meeting with Gezi Park prisoners, Kılıçdaroğlu made a press statement in front of the prison.
The CHP leader described the reason for his visit as "having no justice in this country,” and added "If a lawmaker elected by the people is kept in prison in violation of the constitution, law and democracy, there is a problem.”
After Atalay was elected as a Hatay lawmaker in May 14 elections, his lawyers applied to Turkish authorities for his release as he gained legislative immunity. Nonetheless, Turkey’s Court of Cassation has rejected jailed MP’s release and stated that parliamentary immunity does not cover the crime for which he was convicted.
“If justice is really to be achieved, if injustices are to be fought against, my duty is to help and stand by the people who are subjected to these injustices, who are unnecessarily and unlawfully imprisoned,” Kılıçdaroğlu stated.
Kılıçdaroğlu also drew attention to other political prisoners in prison and said, "Thousands of people are staying here in this prison. There are lawyers and intellectual people in this prison. There are really ill people in this prison, people who need to go to the doctor, who need to be treated."
Kılıçdaroğlu also said that "the judiciary is under the control of the executive" and asked that why the relevant judicial authorities had allowed Atalay to run for parliament if he could not be a deputy.
"The Court of Cassation has violated the law. This should not have happened in the history of the high court, but it did. Now the Constitutional Court really needs to sit down and make a decision. There have been similar judgements before and Atalay should be released as soon as possible,” the main opposition leader added.
On Dec. 10, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Osman Kavala's arrest and pre-trial detention were aimed at silencing him and discouraging other human rights defenders, and called on the Turkish government to take the necessary measures to ensure his immediate release.
In July 2022, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR ruled that Turkey had violated the European Convention on Human Rights in the Kavala case.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which oversees the execution of judgements of the ECHR, repeated in September that Kavala should be released.