Prof. Ayşe Buğra's Speech

The speech delivered by Ayşe Buğra, the wife of Osman Kavala, at the press conference held on 12 October 2020:

As many of those who have been following the case know, my husband, Osman Kavala, has been deprived of his freedom since 17 October 2017. During this period, he was charged on three offences under three different articles of the criminal code. He was acquitted of one of these charges. For the second charge, he was released pending trial, then re-arrested and then released again. Now we encounter this second charge in the bill of indictment issued last Thursday which now includes a third charge: espionage.

I would like everyone to read this latest bill of indictment to understand the nature of the situation we are facing. Since it is a 64-page text, it may seem difficult to read, but it is not that difficult. It includes extensive political analyses and there are many repetitions in the text; those who read it would be able to assess whether it contains any information or documents that may constitute a basis for reasonable doubt. They would be able to assess whether it is possible to issue such a bill of indictment in a State under the rule of law.

You can imagine what we have gone through during this process. However, I would like you to consider, once more, what all of this means to my husband and our family. I would like you to imagine how we were affected by the continuation of his detention after the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that found the detention unlawful and ordered his immediate release. I would like you to think what it must be like for a person in prison to prepare his luggage to go home on the day of his acquittal, to actually leave for home, only to be stopped on the way, detained again, and taken back to the prison. I would like you to imagine what it was like to hear that our application to the Constitutional Court regarding his unlawful detention is scheduled to be discussed on a particular day and learn, on that very day, that the discussion is postponed. I would also like you to remember that the meeting of the Constitutional Court and postponement of the discussion on his case coincided with the second meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe where the steps to be taken in the event that the decision of the ECtHR is not enforced are discussed. And I would like you to consider what the allegation of espionage means to a person and his family and how it affects us.

I know that there are many problems with the functioning of the judicial system in Turkey which are discussed every day and that we are not the only ones who are faced with injustice. However, what happened to my husband, who has been under arrest for three years while a suitable offence was being sought to keep him in prison, has made his case a special one which attracts the attention of many people in Turkey and abroad. In this particular situation, unfortunately, it is hard to believe that what we observe is the normal functioning of an independent judicial process. I now think that what my husband, myself and his 94-year-old mother have gone through could well be described as torture. At the same time, I often remember the very well-known Turkish statement “Justice is the foundation of the state”.

In this situation, as a citizen of this country, I feel the need to address not only the press and public opinion, but also the members of parliament who represent us in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. I would like to address the members of parliament affiliated with all political parties, especially the members of the Justice and Development Party, not to ask for mercy, but to demand justice, justice which is the foundation of the state. But I also wish to appeal to the sentiments of empathy, which I think are important for those who wish to pursue political activity for the benefit of the people. I believe that my situation and the situation of my husband’s mother, who now thinks that she will never be able to see her son again, should be of concern for all members of the parliament and all those engaged in politics, especially female politicians.

It is very difficult for me to talk about this incredibly painful process. It is very difficult especially because I have now begun to think that while we talk about universal legal norms and existing laws, there is no one left trying to explain us that our situation is in conformity with these norms and laws. I have begun to think that no one even feels the need to lie to us anymore.

Thank you for participating and listening to us.