Osman Kavala sentenced to life imprisonment, voices of outrage

The “Association of Schools of political Studies” reacts to the condemnation of Osman Kavala to life imprisonment. Recep Tayyip Erdogan wouldn’t change.

Osman Kavala has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Foto: Janbazian / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0int

(Elsa Woeffler / PR) – Designated as “enemy from within”, Osman Kavala, 64 years old, was sentenced this week to life imprisonment. On Monday, April 25, 2022, this Turkish entrepreneur, publisher and patron of the arts will not be able to benefit from any remission or acquittal, as the defense had requested. He has become the symbol of the repression of Turkish civil society and has been imprisoned since 2017. According to the prosecution, he tried to overthrow the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Indeed, Osman Kavala supported projects including anti-government demonstrations or exhibitions. He organized free speech workshops on sensitive issues such as the Kurdish question and the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation. The “Association of Schools of political Studies” took a position on this conviction in a press release.

« Political scientists from 21 countries in Europe and North Africa today voiced shock and revulsion at the decision of a Turkish Court to sentence 64 year old Osman Kavala to spend the rest of his days in prison without any possibility of parole.

The Association of Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe (ASPS) said the decision to find the Turkish Human Rights defender and philanthropist guilty of trying to overthrow the government on trumped up charges was a travesty of justice in defiance of a binding ruling of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights to release him.

The ASPS called for the immediate release of both Osman Kavala, founder of the Turkish School of Political Studies and of the 7 other defendants in the case, including their colleague, Hakan Altinay, Director of the Turkish School who were all sentenced to 18 years in prison.

This is a blatant and unacceptable attempt to silence civil society, stifle pluralism and limit political debate which is the core concept of a democratic society for which the 46 member Council of Europe was set up to promote and defend, the ASPS said.

While welcoming the on-going infringement proceedings concerning Turkey’s non-compliance with the ECHR’s ruling, the ASPS underscored that the Kavala verdict was a political decision and called for immediate political action on the part of the Council of Europe, the European Union and their member States to reaffirm their commitment to Europe’s fundamental values and to salvage their credibility.

The longer illiberal autocrats like Erdogan are allowed to get away with cynically flouting the values and principles to which all member states of the Council of Europe and of the European Union have voluntarily and solemnly committed themselves, the more they will erode the very foundations of the European project, the ASPS said. »

This conviction caused indignation in Turkish civil society, but also internationally. Indeed, several demonstrations of support were organized in the main cities of Turkey, the day after the sentence. But for the moment, only France and the United States have said they are “deeply disturbed and disappointed”, while the Council of Europe has called for the release of Kavala “without further delay”. Nevertheless, the “Association of Schools of political Studies” regrets the lack of reactions to this sentence, which, represents a serious attack on the Turkish justice system. Also, the ASPS calls all European democracies to stand by their values and act in order to safeguard democracy.

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