The Gezi case and Kavala’s re-detention proved once again how partial, arbitrary and politically involved the Turkish judiciary is.
Osman Kavala’s acquittal on Feb 18, along with eight defendants on the Gezi case came as a surprise. His detention based on other charges on the very same day came as a shock.
Just as Kavala was getting ready for his release after 840 days spent in the Silivri Prison, the prosecutor’s office announced the philanthropist would be questioned on “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.” Only a few hours after he was acquitted of organizing and financing the Gezi protests in order to overthrow the government in 2013, Kavala was accused of being involved in the failed coup attempt of 2016.
Similar decisions were taken for HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yuksekdağ, the writer Ahmet Altan as well as for the leftist lawyer Selçuk Kozaağaçlı. As the political scientist and columnist Sinan Birdal puts it: Turkey’s judiciary is waging psychological warfare against its citizens. The aim is to suppress every dissenting voice in society.
But what happened, how and why?
As prominent lawyer Turgut Kazan said following the acquittal, “This is not a judiciary decision. Something else must have happened…”
Since the Gezi case and Kavala’s detention, as well as many other political cases cannot be explained by the law, or not even with basic logic, other assumptions can be made.
One is that a struggle is ongoing at the top ranks in Ankara. The Gezi case acquittal could be an example of a power struggle inside the bureaucracy.
Another claim is that Erdoğan’s government is under pressure and the Gezi decision is an outcome of ongoing talks with the West. Kavala might have been acquitted because Turkey’s government had to take into account a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that regarded his detention as unlawful.
Thus, the decision could have already been made prior to the trial. It could be that the judges played absolutely no role in this process. That likely applies to the Gezi case from its onset. The proceedings of the case were carried out recklessly, hastily. None of the defendants requests were taken into account by the panel of judges.
Yet the most intriguing question is the following: had the decision to rearrest Kavala upon his release been made in advance, or was it actually made after he was acquitted?
The answer to this may lie in comments President Erdoğan made today. “They tried to acquit Soros’ arm in Turkey [Kavala]. Gezi was an assault against the state and the people, like a terror attack, like a coup attempt,” Erdoğan said.
Is it noteworthy one of the trending topics on Twitter just after the Gezi trial was finalized yesterday was “Soros”. The account that tweeted the most about Osman Kavala being George Soros’ accomplice turned out to be ultra-Kemalist, anti-Western, nationalist accounts.
Today, the pro-governmental newspapers were projecting their disappointment over the Gezi case, saying that “the vandalism against the state got acquitted”. Perhaps the most offensive one, the pro-Erdoğan Yeni Akit said “They burned down, they killed and got acquitted. The Court released Gezi provocateurs that were financed by Soros.”
It is not clear on what Kavala will be accused of this time. The accusations, far-right violations against Kavala come at a time when Erdoğan himself has been bringing up the threat of a possible new ‘coup attempt’. A debate over the Gulenist organisation and its political legacy has been ongoing for weeks. Meanwhile, problems are mounting with regards to the Syrian and Libyan forays. Not to mention the toll of the economic crisis.
Only oppositional and independent outlets such as Cumhuriyet, Evrensel, Birgün, Yurt and the daily newspaper Sözcü published FinCEN Files and the Turkish involvement. All digital, independent media did report on it as well. None of the government-controlled newspapers and digital outlets did.
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Associate Professor Şık was the deputy director of the Food Safety and Agricultural Research Center at Akdeniz University. Then, due to his scientific research, he became an enemy of the state.