A TOTAL OF A shocking 2 970 years in prison is sought by the prosecution for sixteen rights activists and opposition figures who are all linked to the 2013 Gezi protests.
This over and above the life sentences, the accused have already received.
The latest development is that an Istanbul Court has accepted a 657-page indictment on the 2013 Gezi protests on Monday. The charges relate to an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government.
From May 28, 2013, onwards, crowds rallied in protest of a construction project on the revival of military barracks in Istanbul’s Taksim square. The controversial project also included the destruction of trees in the near-by Gezi park. The protests spread like wildfire within few days due to then Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s divisive remarks, dismissing the protesters as “a few looters.”
The police violence claimed 22 lives while over 8 000 civilians were left injured. Efforts to undertake the project were halted, leaving Gezi park untouched.
However, Erdogan, on numerous occasions since then, has vowed to implement the project in what is viewed by his critics as a bid to polarize public opinion, and the latest indictment is also viewed by his critics as part of his efforts to consolidate his base against the opposition.
In 2015 a court dismissed the Gezi case but efforts to launch a probe into the protests were renewed following the failed 2016 coup, resulting in a court case in Istanbul with the detention of prominent businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in late 2017, for allegedly financing and organizing the protests.
The indictment accepted by the court bases the coup charges on the parallels between the methods of the protests and the “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action” presented in a book named “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” by Gene Sharp.
The prosecution alleged the protests were premeditated and organized as part of an operation aiming to “bring the Turkish Republic to its knees.” The indictment also alleges rallies were funded by George Soros and claims a resemblance between OTPOR rallies, held against the former President of the Republic of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic.
Dubbing the protests as an “insurrection,” the indictment gives quotes from Kavala and the famous Turkish actor Mehmet Ali Alabora in its preface, claiming: “All the Europeans I meet ask ‘Good but how will it change the political status quo,” reads a quote from transcripts of Kavala’s wired phone conversations.
And the quotation from Alabora is from his Twitter post reading: “It’s not just about the Gezi park mate, haven’t you figured it out already?”
These words are regarded as the evidence of an organized plot behind the protests according to the prosecution.
The prosecution also likened the protests to the ones held before the military coup of May 27, 1960, which overthrew the elected government.
“Although the Gezi riots are projected as if they were innocent protests of crowds exercising their democratic rights, it is conceivable the actual aim of the riots was to lay the grounds of a nationwide chaos and thereby attempting to overthrow or obstruct the Turkish government by instigating an armed resurrection against it,” concluded the indictment.
Turkish people have flocked to social media following the release of the indictment, with many prominent figures condemning the court case as an attempt to defame Gezi protests.
“OTPOR was founded to overthrow Milosevic, a convicted genocide-kingpin, who refused to step down despite the election results. The Gezi indictment cites OTPOR in a way that one can’t help but say perhaps Milosevic is a better option for the ‘New Turkey,” read a tweet by DW reporter, Nevsin Mengu.
Dr. Ali Ozyurt, a prominent academic and physician also took to Twitter: “Hurray! We invented a new terrorist organization. 5 million people attended Gezi rallies. It would not surprise me if these people were also accused of being a member to Gezi organization. The will designate everybody as terrorists except the People’s Alliance [The alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party].”