Amnesty International has called on Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise the issue of releasing jailed rights activists, including Osman Kavala when she meets Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, German Rheinische Post reported.
“Putting an end to the crackdown on human rights activists in Turkey should be the focus of the two leaders’ meeting,” Turkey researcher of Amnesty International Andrew Garner told the German news agency DPA.
The visit marks Merkel’s first trip to Turkey in 2020. It is expected to be a meeting where the two leaders address several issues from the refugee crisis to Turkey’s drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
Kavala stands trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and has been in prison for over two years.
Erdogan’s government accuses Kavala of plotting and financing Gezi protests in 2013 to topple his government.
The Gezi protests were triggered by Erdogan’s governing AK Party’s attempt to raze Istanbul’s central Gezi Park to build a shopping mall, rapidly spread to other cities over what critics described as the president’s increasingly authoritarian rule in 2013.
Erdogan slammed the Gezi protests as a foreign-backed plot to bring down the government and launched a crackdown against the alleged plotters of the demonstrations. In 2018 Erdogan pointed to George Soros, a Hungarian-American investor, as being the force behind Kavala, accusing him of masterminding the Gezi protests against his rule.
Kavala was arrested in 2017 and has been in Silivri prison ever since.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced its ruling on the individual application of Kavala in December 2019, stating that there is a “lack of reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed an offense.”
The Strasbourg-based court stressed that Turkey must now “take every measure to put an end to the applicant’s detention and to secure his immediate release.”
Despite the ECHR ruling, the Turkish court refused Kavala’s demand to be released on December 24, 2019.