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Turkish Activists, Scholars, Journalists Arrested In Probe Of 2013 Protests


Injured protesters lie on the ground as Turkish riot police fire tear gas to disperse demonstrators gathered near Taksim Square in Istanbul in May 2014.

Turkish police have arrested 13 activists, journalists, and academics for alleged links to rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been jailed for an alleged attempt to topple the government with mass protests in 2013.

A popular civil activist, Kavala was jailed one year ago pending trial for his role in organizing the nationwide protests five years ago that the Turkish government say culminated in a July 2016 failed coup attempt.

Police said those arrested on November 16 were accused of working with Kavala to foment the May 2013 unrest. Those protests began with demonstrations against plans to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park.

The movement against park redevelopment turned into nationwide antigovernment protests.

At least 10 people died and thousands were injured when security forces cracked down on the demonstrations against the government of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now Turkey's president.

Kavala was accused of spreading "the Gezi Park incidents across Turkey [to] create an atmosphere of chaos and disorder."

Human rights groups and European Parliament members have repeatedly called on Turkey to release Kavala.

The European Union called for the immediate release of "all those detained without due process."

Carles Torner, executive director of PEN International, said the group "is deeply concerned following reports that yet more academics, journalists, and activists have been detained.... We call on the Turkish authorities to end their relentless crackdown on dissenting voices."

One of the academics detained on November 16 is Turgut Tarhanli, dean of Istanbul Bilgi University's law faculty, and Bogazici University's Betul Tanbay.

Since the 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has jailed 77,000 people who are awaiting trial and has suspended or dismissed 150,000 civil servants and military personnel while also shutting down dozens of media outlets.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa
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