Duvar English

Rights activists and representatives of NGOs have urged two former breakaway members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan, to withdraw their complaints against the accused in the 2013 Gezi Park case ahead of the sixth hearing set to be held Feb. 18.

Davutoğlu, then foreign minister, and Babacan, then deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, are among the 746 complainants in the case.

Gezi Savunması, an account that tracks court proceedings of the defendants in the case, tweeted on Feb. 12: “This is our explicit call to the number 3 plaintiff Ali Babacan and the number 12 plaintiff Ahmet Davutoğlu: If you can tell the press that you have not suffered [regarding the Gezi], then also tell this to the court. In this trial – whose witnesses are ambiguous, victims are ambiguous and evidences are ambiguous – the only thing that is sure is the rightfulness of Gezi.”

The indictment prepared by the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office regarding the case accuses 16 defendants of “attempting to overthrow the government.”

The protests began in 2013 as a peaceful environmentalist sit-in in Gezi Park — a small, green space in central Istanbul beside the city’s famous Taksim Square — by people concerned about government plans to cut down trees to make space for a new shopping mall.

The peaceful demonstration then grew considerably into a nationwide anti-government movement following a brutal police crackdown. 

Renowned philanthropist Osman Kavala, the only jailed defendant in the case, civil society activist Yiğit Aksakoğlu and architect Mücella Yapıcı are accused of being the “managers and organizers” of the protests.

On Feb. 6, the prosecutor presented his final sentencing opinion regarding the case, demanding aggravated life imprisonment for Kavala, Aksakoğlu and Yapıcı.

In 2013, Davutoğlu had said that the Gezi park protest was “a case beyond conspiracy theories.” “All of a sudden, within a span of two weeks, an operation was launched intending to a create a new perception about Turkey,” he had said.

Once he formed his breakaway Future Party, however, Davutoğlu changed his discourse, saying he in fact had tried to make President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then prime minister, meet the youth and talk to them during the protests.

Babacan, on the other hand, who is preparing to launch his new party soon, had said during the 2013 Gezi Park protests: “This is not a youth behavior we want to to see in the future.”

In December of 2019, however, Davutoğlu said, it was not his personal choice to be included as a plaintiff in the Gezi Park case. “Not to withstand even genuine criticism is a shame. It is not my demand that I be included as a plaintiff in the Gezi case. Personally, I have not faced any personal damage regarding Gezi,” Babacan said.