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German minister calls on Turkey to immediately release jailed activist Kavala

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Michael Roth, the minister of state for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, has urged Turkey to comply with its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and release prominent businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala immediately.

Roth was speaking Monday to ministers at the Council of Europe (CoE) on the case of Kavala, who has been in custody for over a thousand days on what many say are politically motivated charges.

“The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in favor of Osman Kavala is now almost a year old. It is final. The [court] found that Turkey violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights for political reasons. I urge Turkey to finally comply with its obligations under the ECHR and release Osman Kavala immediately,” Roth said.

“Germany will hold the presidency of the Council of Europe until May 2021. One of our priorities is that the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are fully respected and implemented,” the minister added.

Joint statement by European foundations on Kavala case

Another statement regarding the ongoing imprisonment of Kavala, which was made jointly on Monday by several European foundations and cultural institutions to members of the CoE, the European Parliament and the German Bundestag, called on the CoE to insist on the Turkish government’s compliance with the obligations it has entered into under the ECHR.

The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the Mercator Foundation as well as the Goethe Institute and the European Cultural Foundation also clearly rejected in the statement the allegations made against European and American organizations in a new indictment in the Kavala case.

“The new bill of indictment accuses European and American organizations that operate in Turkey of engaging in intelligence activities. As organizations that are committed to building relations with Turkey and its people, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or political opinions, we categorically reject this accusation.”

“As the founder of the organization Anadolu Kültür and the supporter of a whole host of art and cultural projects, Kavala has devoted himself for many years to better the understanding between Turkey and Europe, as well as between people in Turkey. The ongoing imprisonment of Kavala and the accusations that have now been levied against him constitute an attempt to criminalize this dialogue,” the statement further said.

After his acquittal in mid-February of charges of attempting to overthrow the state through involvement in the 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests, Kavala, who has been behind bars since October 18, 2017, was rearrested the same day on charges related to an abortive putsch in Turkey in 2016.

The move was described by his lawyers as a tactic to circumvent the ECtHR ruling which said on December 10, 2019 that the long pre-trial detention of the activist was a violation of his rights. 

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