Turkey: Shocking Indictment against Civil Society
In response to the indictment of 16 civil society leaders in Turkey, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The request for aggravated life sentences against civil society leaders on charges of ‘attempting to overthrow the government’ through public protests is a blatant attempt to criminalize assembly and association,” said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “By seeking to imprison these activists, the Turkish government is again showing it has no intention of returning to the rule of law and democratic governance.”
On February 20, 2019, Turkish prosecutors announced the indictment of 16 civil society leaders in connection with the 2013 Gezi Park protests, in which some 2.5 million Turkish citizens took part over several weeks. Two of the leaders, Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu, are already in prison; Kavala has been held since October 2017 without an indictment until now. According to press reports, the indictment claims that the 16 people implemented a plot to overthrow the government through protests.
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.