ISTANBUL (A.W.)— Turkish scholar Dr. Ayşe Buğra said on Wednesday that her husband Osman Kavala’s arrest has hurt the Turkish people’s hopes for democracy, peace, and rule of law in the country. Kavala was detained by Turkish authorities on Oct. 18.
In a statement released on Nov. 1, hours after Kavala was officially charged, Kavala’s lawyer said Kavala had been detained when he returned from a meeting in Gaziantep after having learned an order had been issued for his detention. According to some reports, police also seized computers from the offices of Anadolu Kültür—an organization that promotes the art and culture of the region.
Kavala, a longtime supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition and Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, visited Yerevan’s Armenian Genocide Institute and Museum on April 24, 2016. At the time, speaking to Yerevan-based News.am, he called Turkish society’s changing attitudes toward Armenians a slow, but moving process. “First of all, there has to be a sincere intention to look at history, to look at what had happened, to open up the archives properly, and to have a very sincere dialogue with the Armenians. Fortunately, there are some steps, but we still can’t see that at the political level,” he was quoted as saying.
Kavala was also present at the reopening of Diyarbakir’s Surp Giragos Church in 2011. The church had been recently renovated by the Surp Giragos Armenian Foundation with the support of the local Kurdish-controlled municipality of the time.
Speaking to the Armenian Weekly, Kavala had expressed hope that the massive reconstruction and other initiatives in Diyarbakir would “have an impact beyond the city, on the national policy.”
During the past two tumultuous years, the church has been desecrated and largely damaged, as seen in a set of secretly taken photographs published by the Armenian Weekly in September.
Born in 1957, Kavala studied economics at the University of Manchester. In 1982, he took over the management of the Kavala Companies founded by his late father.
He was active in the establishment of a number of business organizations in Turkey, including Turkish-Polish and Turkish-Greek business councils and the Association of Tourism Investors.
Kavala has served on the boards of TURSAK (Turkish Audiovisual Cinema Foundation), TEMA (Foundation to Fight Soil Erosion), Helsinki Citizens Association, TESEV (Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation), and Thessaloniki-based Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in the Southeast Europe.
He has also taken part in civil society organizations promoting peace and understanding between Turkey and Greece and has participated in civil initiatives for the protection of human rights and a democratic solution to Kurdish issues in Turkey.
Below is Dr. Ayşe Buğra’s statement in its entirety.
My spouse, Chairperson of Anadolu Kültür Osman Kavala was arrested on Nov. 1, 2017 at 4:10 a.m. on charges of “attempting to abolish constitutional order” and “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey” or preventing it from undertaking its duties.
In the arrest decision it is stated that Osman Kavala was the organizer and overseer of the Gezi incidents where all terror organizations (FETÖ/PDY–PKK/KCK–DHKPC, MLKP) were involved and that he partook in the coup attempt of July 15, 2016.
There is a “confidentiality order” on the current investigation. Irrespective of the circumstances without compromising our respect to rule of law, we leave a comprehensive explanation to time. However, we felt compelled to provide a statement due to the attempted perception management carried out against Osman Kavala by certain print and visual media throughout his detention period.
The aforementioned decision is worrisome because the “reports of interception of communication and physical surveillance reports” pertain to the period when FETÖ/PDY-member public officials were still on duty and every decision that is predicated on these applications is an explicit legitimization of a period that is being prosecuted.
Moreover, this also means that Osman Kavala was involved in the attempted coup along with the members of the organization who collected the evidence which led to Kavala’s arrest, which is tragicomic beyond being unlawful.
It is dubious that he is arrested today on these grounds while actions, monetary transactions, and evidence on the basis of which Osman Kavala financed and orchestrated the Gezi incidents cannot be revealed, and while he has not been subjected to any investigations and charges since then.
With the arrest decision we have not only lost Osman Kavala’s freedom, but also weakened our hopes for democracy, peace, and the rule of law.