UN Commissioner criticizes Turkey for failing to implement fair Gezi trials

A SENIOR United Nations commissioner has on Wednesday lashed out at Turkey after the recent development of charges being laid against rights activists in relation to the Gezi trials.

The Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN, Michelle Bachelet, took a swipe at Turkey during a wide-ranging speech she delivered in Geneva, Switzerland.

“In Turkey, I call on the authorities to view critical or dissenting voices – including human rights defenders, academics and journalists – as valuable contributors to social dialogue, rather than destabilizing forces,” said Bachelet.

She then became more specific: “The recent prosecution of 16 civil society activists for “attempting to overthrow the government” for their alleged roles during protests in 2013, is emblematic of many other trials lacking international due process standards.”

In 2013, a controversial construction project that included cutting down trees in the Gezi park near Istanbul’s Taksim square sparked protests which spread throughout Turkey following then Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s polarizing statements that essentially dismissed the concerns of the protesters.

A court case dismissed the charges against several prominent figures in the protests in 2015, however, the case was revived during the state of emergency that was declared, after the botched 2016 coup.

In 2017, renowned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala was detained and imprisoned on charges of attempting to overthrow the government and has been imprisoned since then.

On Monday, an Istanbul court accepted the indictment against 16 activists for organizing the rallies and the content of the indictment prompted a backlash from government’s critics, dismissing the allegations as bogus charges based on far-fetched conspiracy theories.

The prosecution implicates the protests were funded by the Open Society Foundation that belongs to American billionaire, George Soros, and also draws parallels with the OTPOR movement that organized rallies against the former president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic for refusing to step down after losing elections.

An apiculture map lousily used to stir up the charges

One of the pieces of evidence put forth by the prosecution against Kavala is a photo of a map obtained from his cellphone displaying the Kurdish-majority region of southeastern Turkey in a different color than the rest of the country.

The indictment alleged the photo is proof of Kavala’s secret agenda aiming to establish a Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey.

The news portal OdaTV debunked the allegation hours after the indictment was made public, revealing the map was from a book on beekeeping, illustrating the distribution of bee subspecies throughout the region.

Istanbul prosecutor wants life imprisonment for 16 on coup charges referring to Gezi protests

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