Ankara faces new calls to launch philanthropist Osman Kavala

Per week after Turkey and 10 Western international locations averted a diplomatic disaster over imprisoned philanthropist Osman Kavala, Ankara is as soon as once more dealing with requires his launch.

Meanwhile, Kavala made a name from jail saying that he hoped his predicament might assist confront the essential issues within the Turkish judiciary.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, additionally referred to as for Kavala’s launch on Nov. 1, the fourth anniversary of the philanthropist’s time behind bars. “I join those calling for his immediate release as well as the release of all political prisoners and journalists illegally detained in Turkey,” the tweet mentioned. “The rule of law must prevail.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Rome over the weekend, additionally mentioned that his nation would proceed to push for Kavala’s launch. “I told President Erdogan that the Netherlands has always the right to draw attention to the European Court of Human Rights ruling [which called for release of Kavala in 2019]. We think that this is not intervening in internal affairs but the confirmation of universal values,” Rutte was quoted by BBC as saying. “I told him that we will also continue to do this in the future. This is a part of bilateral relations.”

Kavala, an award-winning philanthropist, activist and businessman, was jailed in 2017 on costs of organizing and financing the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Acquitted of the costs and launched for a day on Feb. 18, 2020, he was rearrested as a part of a separate probe for collaborating within the 2016 failed coup engineered by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Kavala constantly denied the allegations. Finally final month, he introduced that he would now not attend the continuing as a result of he didn’t assume he might defend himself in a good trial.

Kavala made a brand new assertion on the four-year mark. “Not only was I deprived of the capability to live my own life, but also my image was severely distorted as I was personally targeted and pictured as a ‘dark’ and ‘evil’ person in the public eye,” the assertion mentioned.

Erdogan referred to the businessman as “the Soros leftover” — a reference to Kavala’s place on the board of the Turkish chapter of the Open Society Foundations funded by financier George Soros. 

“After losing four years of my life and becoming an ‘issue of the country,’ the only aspect I can find solace in is the possibility that the process I experienced could contribute to confronting the crucial problems in the judiciary of Turkey, thus, those who will be brought to justice in the future could receive a fairer treatment,” he added.

The statements comply with final week’s stand-off between Turkey and the ambassadors of the United States, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Norway and New Zealand, who prolonged a public name to Ankara on Oct. 18 to “secure immediate release” of Kavala consistent with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry reprimanded the envoys for interfering in Turkey’s home points, however Erdogan, insisting this was not sufficient, urged the ministry to declare the envoys persona non grata.

What might have changed into the biggest disaster of 19-year-old AKP rule with its Western allies was averted on the 11th hour largely as a result of “Twitter diplomacy” and a few artistic translation initiated by the US Embassy. In a Twitter assertion in English and Turkish, the US Embassy underscored its dedication to Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations that prohibits interference in one other state’s inner affairs. The nuance between the Turkish and English variations allowed Ankara to assert that the West had admitted its “faux pas” in meddling in Turkey’s affairs, whereas the English model sounded as if Turkey’s Western allies maintained their place on human rights. 

Minutes after the US Embassy tweet, Fahrettin Altun, the pinnacle of presidential communications, claimed victory. “[Erdogan] once again stood tall and showed the world that our government is ready to take any action necessary to ensure our sovereignty and independence,” he mentioned.

Simultaneously in Washington, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price mentioned the Oct. 18 assertion was in step with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention. “We are steadfast in our commitment to promoting the rule of law, to promoting respect for human rights globally. This commitment is unwavering and we will continue to engage with Turkey as consistent with Article 41,” he mentioned.

“The embassies have simply thrown a rope to Erdogan to get off the corner he had painted himself into,” Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow on the European Council on Foreign Relations, instructed Al-Monitor. “None of them thought a reference to the ECHR ruling was an intervention in domestic affairs. Thinking they did is misreading the new world order and what is going to come if Kavala is not released.”

Aydintasbas mentioned that the renewed calls or clarifications from Western capitals have been no shock both. “Osman Kavala has become the international symbol for Turkey’s democratic backsliding,” she mentioned. “This will not go away. It will come to Turkey in international platforms as well as in bilateral relations.”

Deniz Yuksel, a Turkey advocacy specialist for Amnesty International, mentioned the statements from this week and final have been the final warnings that the infringement course of for Turkey within the Council of Europe would move in a short time. On Sept. 17, the Council of Europe mentioned it will vote on whether or not to begin infringement proceedings in opposition to Turkey, a member state, if Kavala is just not launched earlier than its subsequent Committee of Ministers assembly in late November. The subsequent trial for Kavala is Nov. 26.

“The recent statements show that this is the last exit for Turkey before it faces an infringement process in the Council of Europe,” Yuksel mentioned. Turkey’s membership or voting rights on the Council of Europe might be suspended on the finish of the proceedings.

Yuksel mentioned the Kavala assertion confirmed that the imprisoned philanthropist nonetheless wished to take care of his optimistic outlook.

“I found the statement sad because it acknowledges that it was not simply the four years of his life that was taken away but his image as well,” Yuksel mentioned. “Through repetitive propaganda, he was portrayed as a public enemy that has spent all his time plotting against Turkey. On the contrary, he simply worked to make Turkey a more equitable, just and fair place. All the defamation he faces, it is like adding insult to injury.”

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