A prominent philanthropist and seven other human rights activists have been found guilty in a Turkish court of charges related to the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and the failed coup attempt in 2016.
Sami Kent tells Michael Safi that laws intended to prosecute people charged with violently overthrowing the Turkish state have been used to criminalise non-violent protesters who opposed the government.
Among the eight defendants in court last month was the veteran architect and activist Mücella Yapıcı. We hear from her daughter Cansu Yapıcı about the conditions her mother faces in prison for her 18-year sentence. And from Handay Altinay, whose husband Hakan was also jailed for 18 years for his part in the protests.
The European court of human rights has said there was insufficient evidence he committed an offence, and that his arrest was an attempt to “silence him and dissuade other human rights defenders”.
The sentencing marks the Turkish authorities’ deepest and most public crackdown on dissent and freedom of assembly in the past decade and threatens to damage Turkish relations with Europe after heavy criticism of the marathon trial.
Amnesty International called the decision “a travesty of justice”, and said the trial was “a politically motivated charade”.
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