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Statement on the Sentence of Osman Kavala

Our friend Osman Kavala has been sentenced to life in prison by a Turkish court. As a community and members of the teams of many programmes and organisations he has helped shape, been part of, and whose legacy we are still building on, we are devastated.
Osman Kavala has always been a believer in the importance of culture and civil society to create spaces for equality. Today, he is punished for dreaming and believing in justice, equality, and access to democracy for all. The appalling verdict pronounced on 25 April 2022, following four years and a half of detention on unconvincing grounds, is an abhorrent injustice that is impacting democracy and civil society in Turkey on a frightening scale. The court has also sentenced seven other affiliated defendants: ex- and current members of Anadolu Kültür’s Executive Board Yigit Ali Ekmekçi, Ali Hakan Altinay and Mine Özerden, Anadolu Kültür’s advisor Çigdem Mater, and Mücella Yapıcı, Tayfun Kahraman and Can Atalay from Taksim Solidarity, to 18 years in prison for allegedly aiding in an attempt to overthrow the government.

Without Anadolu Kültür, which Osman founded 20 years ago, there would be no Tandem Turkey or VAHA programme. Hundreds of cultural managers, artists, and civil society actors based in Turkey and across Europe have created projects and built communities of care and change. Together they have been contributing to making Osman’s dream come true, and today more than ever, we are convinced we need to continue to do so.

We send our thoughts and love to Osman’s family and loved ones, and to all the members of civil society and culture affected by the verdict. We stand with you, in solidarity and in action.