The HRW director for Europe and Central Asia, Hugh Williamson, has called on the
European Union and its member states to put human rights issues at the center of
their engagement with Turkey, especially the case of Osman Kavala and four others
who face life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.
Williamson said in an article that the EU should not ignore the “deteriorating human
rights situation” in Turkey, where the government has cracked down on dissent, media
freedom, and civil society. He also criticized the EU for failing to take a clear
stance on the ongoing trial of Kavala and his co-defendants, who are accused of attempting
to overthrow the government by organizing the peaceful protests that swept across
Turkey in 2013.
“The EU should make clear that Turkey’s human rights record is a key factor in its
relations with the bloc, and that it expects concrete steps from Ankara to improve
it,” Williamson said. “The EU should also publicly and privately urge Turkey to drop
the baseless charges against Kavala and the others, and to release them immediately
Williamson’s statement came ahead of the EU-Turkey summit scheduled for November
25, 2023, where the leaders of the two sides are expected to discuss issues such
as migration, trade, security, and regional cooperation. Williamson said that the
summit should not be a “missed opportunity” for the EU to raise its concerns about
human rights in Turkey, and to press for meaningful reforms.
“The EU has a responsibility to stand up for the rights of people in Turkey, who
have faced increasing repression and injustice in recent years,” Williamson said.
“The EU should not trade away human rights for other interests, but rather use its
leverage to support positive change in Turkey.” (AEK/VK)