Turkey: Detention of Kavala Escalates Attacks against Civil Society
In response to Turkey’s detention of Osman Kavala, a prominent businessman whose philanthropy supports civil society organizations throughout the country, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The detention of Osman Kavala is a significant escalation in the Turkish government’s assault on civil society and media,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Eurasia programs. “Authorities have detained Kavala a few days before the first court hearing on ill-founded criminal charges against representatives of local civil society organizations, and Amnesty International’s Turkey branch, another signal that Turkey is targeting activists for holding opinions critical of the government. Kavala should be released immediately and the charges against him made clear. The European Union and the government of the United States should publicly press for Kavala’s release.”
Osman Kavala leads the Anadolu Kültür Foundation, which promotes cultural and artistic exchange in Turkey and with Armenia and Europe. A prominent businessman, he is a supporter and board member of multiple think tanks, cultural initiatives, and civil society organizations in Turkey. He was detained at Istanbul airport overnight on October 18-19. Police also entered the office of Anadolu Kültür Foundation.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.