I hope human rights will prevail after May 14 elections, Osman Kavala says in letter marking 2000 days in prison

Influential businessperson, philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala has penned a letter from prison where he is being kept for 2000 days, saying that he hopes a perspective that respects the principles of law, human dignity and human rights will prevail after the May 14 elections in Turkey.

Duvar English

Philanthropist and businessperson Osman Kavala, who has been convicted of aggravated life in prison over the alleged charge of attempting to overthrow the government, has penned a letter from prison where he is being kept for 2000 days.

Kavala said he has been in prison for 2000 days on unlawful and unreasonable allegations and accusations.

The 65-year-old Kavala said “The acquittal decision in the first Gezi trial, which was unanimously given, clearly stated that there is no concrete evidence linking me to any crime. My ongoing imprisonment despite this fact that should be apparent to anyone who reads the indictments and that gained a legal grounding with the two legally-bounding decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), is an act of torture realized through the misuse of judicial authority. It is a manifestation of a perspective that disregards the value of human life.”

“I fervently hope that after May 14 (elections), a new perspective that upholds legal norms, human dignity, and human rights will prevail within the judiciary and all other public offices. And I believe that thousands of our fellow citizens who have also been imprisoned without any evidence linking them to the alleged crimes share this expectation,” he added.

Kavala was arrested in 2017 on charges that he helped to plan the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. He was cleared of these charges in February 2020 but immediately arrested on charges that he orchestrated the July 2016 coup attempt, seen at the time as a way of getting around the ECHR's 2019 ruling that called for his immediate release.

In April 2022, an Istanbul court sentenced Kavala to aggravated life in prison without parole on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously said they will not respect ECHR’s decision, triggering proceedings which could result in Turkey's suspension from the Council of Europe, of which it is a founding member.

Main opposition bloc Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate and Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has expressed on several occasions that political prisoners such as Osman Kavala and former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş will be released should he assume power.