Osman Kavala: I haven't lost hope

Osman Kavala issued a statement on completion of his 6th year in prison.

Osman Kavala has completed his sixth year in prison. In a message he sent from prison, Kavala said: "I have been unjustly imprisoned for 6 years, despite the absence of any incriminating evidence. While waiting for an end to this, my prison conditions deteriorated when the Court of Cassation upheld this injustice."

The message continued: "I was honoured to receive the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a prize named in honour of Vaclav Havel, who himself endured incarceration. Yet, the attacks by Hamas on civilians and the humanitarian disaster in Gaza caused by Israel's bombardment left me unable to feel any content.

I hope that international organizations will become more attuned to the injustices in Palestine, which fuel terror and violence, bringing about immense sorrow, and take strong initiatives towards peacebuilding in the region that adheres to the international legal norms."

The message added: "As Havel said, “the most important thing is not losing hope”. I have not lost hope that the rule of law will eventually prevail in my country."

Osman Kavala

After graduating with a degree in Economics from Manchester University in 1982, Osman Kavala took over the management of Kavala Group companies. Dedicated as he was to running the family business, Osman Kavala was also deeply attuned to cultural forces affecting Turkey.  In response to the oppressive atmosphere in the aftermath of the military coup on September 12, 1980,  he contributed to the foundation of İletişim Yayınları (İletişim Publishing House) in 1983 with the goal of inspiring positive social change.  

Osman Kavala was taken into custody on 18 October 2017. On 1 November that year, he was arrested on both Article 309 (“attempts to abolish, replace or prevent the implementation of, through force and violence, the constitutional order of the republic of Turkey”) and Article 312 (“the use of force and violence, to abolish the government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it, in part or in full, from fulfilling its duties”) of the Turkish Penal Code. Article 309 was related to an investigation into the 2016 attempted military coup, and Article 312  was related to an investigation into the Gezi Park protests. The indictment accuses the defendants of forming the mastermind behind the scenes of the Gezi Park protests.

The trial opened on 24 June 2019. The verdict in the so-called Gezi Trial was only delivered on the 18 February 2020, when Kavala was acquitted. However, just hours after his acquittal on Article 312, the chief prosecutor of Istanbul demanded the continued detention of Kavala due to Article 309.

He was acquitted of Article 309 on 20 March 2020. However, he didn't leave prison as, on 9 March 2020, he had been arrested on Article 328 (“securing information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or domestic or foreign political interests of the State, for the purpose of political or military espionage”).

On 28 September 2023, the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation upheld the aggravated life imprisonment sentence for Osman Kavala in the Gezi Park trial, along with 18-year prison sentences for Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Çiğdem Mater, and Mine Özerden.