Turkey (MNN) — A Turkish court has sentenced activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala to life in prison. The government accused him of participating in an attempted coup in 2016. Previously, he had been accused of funding anti-government protests in 2013.
Kavala has supported the arts, sciences, and environmental projects in Turkey, along with free speech and democracy. Bruce Allen with FMI says, “Then we have President Erdogan in Turkey who has ruled for decades now. His rule has become increasingly authoritarian. Since that failed coup in 2016, thousands of people have been arrested, many more were removed from any public jobs.”
Both the U.S. State Department and the European Court of Human Rights condemned the ruling, citing a lack of evidence. Kavala has lived in prison over the last four years, even before being convicted. Allen says, “Kavala has denied all charges. In fact, he’s been charged three times with this crime and acquitted twice, already. It’s really strange because he was put on trial again after being acquitted twice, despite the absence of any new evidence.”
It speaks to how paranoid Turkey’s government has been since the coup attempt. Allen says, “This was a panel of three judges. And the verdict is based on a majority vote. And it was one judge even saying, ‘I am in favor of acquitting Kavala again, and just releasing him already.’”
Suspicion has often fallen on Christians as well. In 2021, hundreds of Christians either were deported or did not have their visas renewed. Allen says, “There are more radical factions in Turkey that are calling not just for a secular government, but much more of a government based on Shariah law.”
As Christians from other countries find it increasingly difficult to minister in Turkey, FMI helps build indigenous church networks. Ask God to guide this work.
The header photo shows Osman Kavala in 2015. (Phot0 courtesy of Janbazian, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)