In November of last year, we published an open letter from artists of the 3rd Berliner Herbstsalon calling for the release of civil society activist and businessmen Osman Kavala, who had been arrested by Turkish authorities that month. He remains in custody, and last week he issued a public statement condemning the accusations that led to his arrest and highlighting the threat to democracy posed by the state of emergency in Turkey. Read an excerpt from the statement below, or the full text here.
I believe that it will soon be understood that these accusations are unfounded. Nevertheless, I think that the state of emergency also affects the climate in the judiciary, and that the arrest decisions may be reflecting this effect. In times of state of emergency, the concern for losing the suspect outweighs the need for the prevention of engendering unjust victimization. While the people who were unjustly arrested are expected to be freed as soon as possible, the psychological impact of the initiatives that violate the presumption of innocence, such as the recent preparations for the regulation on the uniform dress code, is not taken into account.
Despite everything, my belief is that the new year will be a better year in terms of democracy and freedoms.
I send my regards to all those who have supported me with their statements and messages ever since I was taken into custody, and I want to say that I am in good health. Hope to see you all soon.
Image of Osman Kavala via Human Rights Watch.