Turkish human rights activist sentenced to life in coup case

Osman Kavala was given a life sentence in connection with the 2016 coup d'état. The human rights activist called the verdict illegal />

Astrid Fechstedt, filmmaker and writer, holds up a poster of imprisoned Osman Kavala

A court in Turkey has sentenced human rights activist Osman Kavaluk to life in prison for attempting a coup, Milliyet reported. The human rights activist himself called the sentence illegal.

Kavala is 64 years old. He is a businessman, human rights activist and founder of the Anadolu Kültür AŞ Cultural Foundation. This foundation developed projects to assist ethnic and religious minorities, advocated reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.

In October 2017, Kavalu was detained in Istanbul, and a month later he was taken into custody on charges of involvement in an attempt to overthrow the government. The businessman was accused of supporting mass protests in 2013, which the opposition launched in connection with the decision to cut down trees in Istanbul's oldest Gezi park. Subsequently, the environmental action turned into political protests and riots, and the Istanbul authorities refused to build the park.

In February 2020, Kavalu was acquitted in this case, but was immediately charged with another— about the coup attempt in 2016. In July of that year, a military group tried to overthrow the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More than 290 people were killed and more than 1,400 were injured in clashes.

Ten countries, including the United States, Germany, France, Denmark and Norway, called the arrest of Kavala politically motivated and in October 2021 called for the release of the human rights activist . After that, Erdogan threatened to expel the ambassadors of these countries from Turkey. The conflict was settled after they published statements promising to comply with the Vienna Convention, which requires diplomats not to interfere in the internal affairs of the host country.

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