(Berlin, June 19, 2019) – The trial of 16 people accused of organizing and financing peaceful protests which began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park in 2013 is scheduled to begin on June 24, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a short video about the case. The 16 are charged with attempting to overthrow the government and if convicted face a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.
The trial is opening during a tense period, with the controversial re–run of the Istanbul mayoral election taking place on June 23. The main defendant in the Gezi Park case is Osman Kavala, a leading figure in civil society who runs a civic organization promoting human rights through the arts. He has spent the past 19 months in pretrial detention in Silivri Prison near Istanbul. A second defendant, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, who works for an early childhood education foundation, has been detained for the past seven months in the same prison. The 14 other defendants are at liberty. The trial will be held at the courthouse in Silivri prison.