Turkish opposition politicians slam Gezi Park case convictions as 'shameful'

Several Turkish politicians have slammed the convictions in the Gezi Park case as "shameful," saying that their concerns with regards to the situation of judiciary and democracy in Turkey are deepening.

Rights activists and politicians stand outside Istanbul's Çağlayan Courthouse in this photo.

Duvar English

Several Turkish politicians have slammed the convictions in the Gezi Park trial, saying that the court's ruling shows the dire situation of the judiciary in the country.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that no justice would come from courts that are under the government's control and that have been “receiving instructions.” 

“The Gezi [Park case's] decision has been announced...Some of the judges that have taken a role here have given their decision beforehand. They are putting their signatures under decisions that they made based on instructions. We have seen such courts a lot before,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during his party's weekly meeting on April 26.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan said that Gezi Park defendants are not “alone in the struggle for law and justice.” “Turkey's democratic conscience is with you,” she said during her party's weekly meeting on April 26.

Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in jail for over five years now, said in a Twitter message that the convictions show how the government is still scared of Gezi Park protests. “Gezi cannot fit into four walls. They have not yet learned; let them be scared of us,” he wrote in the message shared by his lawyers.

İYİ Party General Secretary Uğur Poyraz said that the court's ruling has “deepened the concerns with regards to the feeling of justice, conscience and law.” He said that they were yet expecting the court to reveal its justified decision to make more comments. Meanwhile, İYİ Party chair Meral Akşener has not yet made a statement with regards to the convictions. 

DEVA Party leader Ali Babacan showed his reaction on Twitter, saying that the court's ruling is “a great injustice” and “has no legal explanation.” “The great injustice done to Osman Kavala and other defendants has hurt our conscience. The decision that has been given has no legal explanation. We will not surrender our country to anger and vengeance. We will live freely in the democratic state of law,” he wrote.

Future Party chair Ahmet Davutoğlu also commented on the convictions, emphasizing the importance of independent courts. “If you crumple justice with long imprisonment durations and completely disregard law with contradictory decisions, there would be no respect left for the rulings you hand down,” he wrote on Twitter. "It is the most priority of democratic politics to ensure the judiciary's reputation inside [Turkey] and abroad," he said. 

Former President Gül: Court's ruling shows how disconnected Turkey is 

Also, a statement came from former President Abdullah Gül who deemed the court's ruling “shameful” and said it “bears an inconceivable burden for Turkey.” “It is also shameful as it shows how disconnected we are from the modern life which we are part of,” Gül told journalist Murat Sabuncu from online news outlet T24. “In this period in which human rights and judiciary implementations are already questioned a lot, those who want to do harm to Turkey would hurt it this much,” he said.

Former Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı also released a written statement, saying that he “had watched the Gezi Park case in Turkey and its result with his conscience aching.” “It will not be easy to alleviate the pains that this period created,” he said.

US, Germany have no right to comment on Turkey's judiciary: Justice minister

Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the U.S. and Germany have no right to comment on Turkey's judiciary regarding the convictions. Speaking to reporters on April 26, Bozdağ said Turkey is a state of law and that everyone should respect that.

Bozdağ's comments after the United States said on April 25 it was "deeply troubled and disappointed" by the conviction. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement that philanthropist and businessperson Osman Kavala should be released immediately.

The Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court on April 25 sentenced Kavala to aggravated life in prison, finding him guilty of attempting to overthrow the government by financing the 2013 Gezi Park protests. 

The court also sentenced Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi to 18 years in jail for aiding the alleged attempt to overthrow the government. The court said it decided to acquit Kavala of espionage charge due to a lack of evidence.