55 Academics, Writers Send Letter to Erdoğan Demanding Release of Rights Activist Kavala

55 writers and academics have sent President Erdoğan an open letter and expressed that rights activist Osman Kavala was arrested over a smear campaign launched in the media.

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55 writers and academics from the United States, Australia and various countries in Europe and the Middle East have sent an open letter to President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The group urged that the arrested rights activist, businessperson Osman Kavala be released.

Osman Kavala was taken into custody on October 18 at İstanbul Atatürk Airport after his return from a meeting of a project planned to be realized in cooperation with Goethe Institute in Antep province. Following his detention, he was targeted by certain pro-government newspapers and was arrested on November 1, 2017.

In their open letter, the 55 writers and academics stated that Osman Kavala was one of the best-known businesspersons and cultural figures of Turkey and noted that he had been arrested as a result of a smear campaign launched in the media.

Addressing to Kavala's role as the founder of Anadolu Kültür (Anatolia Culture), a not-for-profit institution, that "aimed at building bridges of peace through exchange of culture and arts", the group pointed out that Kavala also represented the "ceaseless devotion for humanistic values, tolerance, democracy, peace and the rule of law".


Taner Akçam, Ermeni Soykırımı Çalışmaları, Prof., Clark University

K. Anthony Appiah, Prof., Felsefe ve Hukuk, New York University

Peter Balakian, Prof., Colgate University

Janet Benshoof, President, Global Justice Center, NYC

Sven Birkerts, Writer, Bennington Writers Seminar

Peter Brooks, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar, Princeton University

James Carroll, Writer

Israel Charny, Holocaust and Genocide Enstitüsü yöneticisi, Jerusalem.

Junot Díaz, Prof. İngilizce, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Deborah Dwork, Prof., Holocaust tarihi, Clark University

Kai Erikson, Prof. Sosyoloji, Yale University

Daniel Feierstein, Soykırım Çalışmaları yöneticis, University of Buenos Aires

Carolyn Forché, Prof., Georgetown University

Donna-Lee Frieze, Deakin University,  

Alice Fulton, Prof., İngilizce, Cornell University

David Gewanter, Prof., İngilizce, Georgetown University

Todd Gitlin, Prof., Gazetecilik ve sosyoloji, Columbia University

Joy Harjo, Prof., İngilizce, University of Tennessee

Judith Herman, Prof., Psikiyatri, Harvard Medical School

Susannah Heschel, Prof., Yahudi Çalışmaları, Dartmouth College

Marianne Hirsch, Prof., Karşılaştırmalı Edebiyat, Columbia University

Tessa Hofmann, Prof., Berlin

Major Jackson, Prof., İngilizce, University of Vermont

Ben Kiernan, Prof., Tarih, Yale University

Pamela Kingsbury,  University of Northern Alabama

Robert Jay Lifton, John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY

Deborah Lipstadt, Prof., Modern Yahudi Tarihi ve Holocaust Çalışmaları, Emory University

Shara Macallum, Prof., İngilizce, Penn State University

Armen T Marsoobian, Prof., Felsefe, , University of Southern Connecticut

Richard A. Meckel, Prof., Tarih ve Amerika Çalışmaları, Brown University

Askold Melnyczuk, Prof., İngilizce, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Robert Melson, Prof., Siyaset Bilimi, Purdue University

Christopher Merrill, International Writing Program, University of Iowa

Angela Miller, Prof., Sanat Tarihi, Washington University in St. Lous

Dirk Moses, Prof., Modern Tarih, University of Sydney

Adam Muller, Barış ve Çatışma Çalışmaları, University of Manitoba

Jay Parini, Prof., İngilizce, Middlebury College

Jane Pinchin, Prof., Colgate University

Robert Pinsky, Prof., İngilizce, Boston University

John Poch, Prof., İngilizce, Texas Tech University

Leo P. Ribuffo, Prof., Tarih, George Washington University

Michael A. Riff, Gross Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, Ramapo College

David Romtvedt, Prof., University of Wyoming

Nancy L. Rosenblum, Prof., Politik Etik, Harvard University

Tom Sleigh, Prof., Hunter College/CUNY

Bruce Smith, Prof., , Syracuse University

Roger W. Smith, Prof., College of William and Mary

Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, Founding Chairman, Genocide Watch

Charles B. Strozier, Prof., Center on Terrorism, John Jay College/CUNY

Gordon Tapper, Prof., İngilizce, Laguardia Community College

Colin Tatz, Prof., politika ve Uluslararası İlişkiler, Australian National University

Henry C. Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars

Natasha Trethewey, Prof., İngilizce, Northwestern University

Andrew Woolford, Prof., Sosyoloji, University of Manitoba

Ragip Zarakolu, Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı kurucularından, yazar, yayıncı.

What happened?

Anadolu Kültür Executive Board Chair, human rights advocate and businessperson Osman Kavala was taken into custody in the evening hours on October 18 at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from a meeting of a project planned to be realized in cooperation with Goethe Institute in Antep.

He was targeted by some pro-government newspapers following his detention.

Speaking at the weekly group meeting of his party, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Kavala as the "Soros of Turkey", mentioning his name and said:

"Some try to deflect the truth by means of praises attributed to him such as 'He was a good citizen, a media member, an NGO representative'. The identity of this figure called 'Soros of Turkey' has been uncovered. That was his name that came up in Consulate General [investigation]. All connections have surfaced. And there is the same person behind the incidents in Taksim. You see those people again behind funds transfer to certain places. Who are you trying to fool?"

His detention also sparked criticism on international level.

US thinker and professor in linguistics, Noam Chomsky, United States Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert and European Parliament Rapporteur for Turkey Kati Piri denounced Kavala's detention and demanded that he be released immediately.

On October 31, a group of 35 academics, writers and researchers coming together under the guidance of the European Network on Political Group Analysis Jean-François Bayart, addressed an open letter to President Erdoğan for Kavala's release.

About Osman Kavala

Kavala was born in Paris in 1957. He graduated from Department of Economy at Manchester University.

He has been working as executive at Kavala Group since 1982.

He participated in the foundation of Turkey's one of the most prominent publishing houses, İletişim Publications, with Murat Belge.

He served as member of administrative boards of business institutions and NGOs such as Turkey-Poland Business Council, Turkey-Greece Business Council, and Center For Democracy in Southeast Europe.

Kavala is a member of Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) Administrative Board, Open Society Institute Consulting Board, and supporter of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, History Foundation and Diyarbakır Culture House.


İstanbul - BIA News Desk

24 November 2017, Friday