In an April 15, 2020 article for openDemocracy entitled “Locking Up Dissidents, Turkish Style: the Saga of Osman Kavala,” POMED’s Turkey Program Coordinator Merve Tahiroğlu analyzes Osman Kavala’s persecution as a case study for Erdoğan’s authoritarianism.

Here is a key excerpt:

By now, it has become clear to Kavala that Turkey’s all-powerful president, and the judicial system that is beholden to him, has no intention of letting him go free anytime soon, regardless of his acquittal and the complete absence of evidence for the new espionage charge. The progressive philanthropist will remain behind bars for the foreseeable future. Those who run Turkey’s judiciary appear beholden not to the rule of law but to Erdoğan and his desire to punish Kavala (and thousands of others). The absurd and tragic process to which Kavala has been subjected for almost three years lays bare the weaponization of the judicial system by Erdoğan’s presidency. It is yet another troubling sign of how Turkey, a longstanding NATO ally that merely a few years ago aspired to join the European Union, has moved away from transatlantic values.

As Turkey’s democratic allies in the United States and the European Union contemplate their relationship with the increasingly authoritarian government in Ankara, they must take note of the case of Osman Kavala, a man who dedicated his life to helping Turkey adopt the principles and values that many Turkish citizens share with their western neighbours. Kavala’s plight is not only a case study of the kind of authoritarianism to which Erdoğan subscribes; it is also a cause that Turkey’s allies must urgently take up to help turn the tide in a country that once was on a promising trajectory toward a full democracy, and could again become so.

Read the full article here.