BHRC has issued a public statement raising serious concern over the “Gezi Park” trial of sixteen leading civil society individuals, including Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu, which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. BHRC Chair, Schona Jolly QC, observed the opening of the trial in June 2019 and will continue to monitor the trial this week through our partner, Article 19. Mr Kavala remains in detention since November 2017.

BHRC labels the 657 page indictment “gravely flawed,” since it presents no evidence to support its presumption that the Gezi Park protests were orchestrated by a single person or organisation or that that person was any of the defendants. BHRC finds the indictment ” frequently appears to tout conspiracy in place of any credible or substantive evidence,” and as such concludes that the continued detention of Mr Kavala “appears to be arbitrary and unjustified.”

The statement also highlights the ” worsening situation for human rights defenders and civil society” and concludes that continuing the trial on the basis of the flawed indictment “contributes towards an assessment that criminal proceedings are being used in a retaliatory and intimidatory manner…”

“The attempt to cast peaceful Gezi Park protestors within the net of violent terrorism, retrospectively and without recourse to the evidential threshold required of the Prosecutor, has a chilling effect on the present and future of adherence to international laws and standards, as well as for civil society in Turkey today.”

BHRC calls for Mr Kavala to be released immediately.