Turkey: Halt Crackdown on Civil Society
In response to the arrests of civil society leaders in Turkey, Freedom House issued the following statement:
"These arrests mark a further criminalization of peaceful association and expression in Turkey," said Michael Abramowitz, the President of Freedom House. "The allegations announced today are clear evidence of persecution on the basis of political opinions, not violent crimes. The activists should be released immediately and Turkey should cease its persecution of peaceful civil society."
On November 16, 2018, 13 civic leaders were taken into custody on charges of attempting to overthrow Turkey's government using force. The charges are connected to the Gezi Park protests of May-June 2013, when approximately 2.5 million Turkish citizens joined protests against the government over the course of several weeks. The arrested activists are accused of acting under the direction of imprisoned civic philanthropist Osman Kavala. However, the activities listed in the prosecutor's announcement are all peaceful activities, including organizational meetings, non-violent activism, media promotion, and international advocacy.
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.