24 June 2019
Dear Chief Judge and Dear Members,
I would like you to know how important it is for me to speak in this court today. During the 7 months that I have been waiting under arrest for this moment, I have thought at length about how I can explain that I am totally innocent, that there is no reason for me to remain in custody, and how important it is for me to reunite with my wife and two little girls who have suffered in my absence. I will try to share this with you as much as I can. I hope you will forgive my nervousness and have the patience to listen to all that I have to say to prove that I am not guilty of the crime of which I have been accused.
Firstly, I would like to tell you a bit about myself, and the fields of social development and civil society that I have been working in for many years. Later, I would like to give examples of how my academic, professional and voluntary work was misunderstood in the phone conversation recordings included in the indictment.
When my defence comes to an end, what I hope to have been able to explain to you is this: I am an expert that carries out research and projects, writes books on the fields of civil society and social development. All my life I have been in favor of dialogue. I never defended violence or any change that would result from violence. I have never defended a change that would take place outside of a democratic election process. Quite to the contrary, I have defended change resulting from dialogue between different stakeholders and collaboration with government institutions to foment social change within a democratic system. The accusations in the indictment are baseless and at odds with my beliefs and activities. As I give examples from my work during my defence, I believe you will see how my legal, legitimate and well-intentioned work have been included or interpreted as accusations in the indictment and shown as though they were connected to the Gezi events.
I will continue with a short biography. I was born in 1976 in Aydin. I completed my middle and high school education with a scholarship from Izmir Saint-Joseph Lycee. In 2000 I graduated from the department of construction engineering at Yildiz Technical University. In 2002 I graduated with a masters degree in Civil Society Management from the London School of Economics where I studied on scholarship. In 2003 I received a masters degree in International Cooperation and Development from the University of Barcelona. After this I returned to Turkey.
During my university years I became a member of the European Students’ Forum (AEGEE). At that time, I contributed voluntarily to the Greek-Turkish dialogue work carried out by the Istanbul branch of this association that had branches in over 200 cities in Europe. The projects that we carried out were also referred to in books written on dialogue.
In 1999 I started working in TESEV. At that time, the director of the Foundation was retired Ambassador Gündüz Aktan. Later I also worked with retired Ambassador Özdem Sanberk. In 2001, I left TESEV to continue my masters studies. In 2003, I began working at the Civil Society Center at Bilgi University. It was a great institution to share all that I had learnt on civil society, development and cooperation, and to develop myself. Until 2008 I worked as a Program coordinator responsible for the implementation of long and short term capacity building programs for many foundations, associations and civic formations. In 2004 I began my PhD in Political Science at Bilgi University. In 2008, I left my PhD at Bilgi University and my job to complete my military service. Once I completed my military service I worked for different humanitarian organisations. I worked as a consultant and trainer on organisational capacity building in various countries that had been impacted by natural disasters such as Pakistan and Kenya. In 2011 I created my personal company Talimhane Training and Consulting. In this capacity I worked as a consultant and trainer for the Izmir Development Agency, Bilgi University, Koc Group, TUSEV, Council of Europe, EU projects of the Ministry for Family and Social Policies and EU projects in Cyprus. In a project called “Network” supported by the Bilgi University and the European Commission, we developed a website that explained how the national parliament works to youth. In another project, again supported by the European Commission, we developed a digital and interactive book at Bilgi University explaining the European Union for highschools. The conversation dated 12 July 2013 (ID: 2205288097) on page 381 in the indictment is about this. Again with European Commission financial support, through Bilgi University, we organised trainings for Alevi Culture Associations. The conversation dates 15 July 2013 (ID: 2209583117) on page 381 is about this training.
We also carried out a research for the Third Sector Foundation to determine the trends for civil society in the coming 20 years. Some of the wiretaps that were used in the police interrogation are about this. We carried out Project management training for the expert personnel of the Izmir Development Agency. As part of the Council of Europe Roma Dialogue program started in 2010, we first received facilitation training and then carried out training for Roma Associations in Turkey. I facilitated a workshop to develop a local tourism plan for the Eastern Black Sea Development Agency. As part of an EU technical assistance program I worked as a Project management consultant for the Ministry of Family and Social Policies. In 2011 I started PhD again.
I also have publications on social project management and advocacy, i.e. influencing policies, from Istanbul Bilgi University and other publishers. I have made these publications with other noteworthy academics and bureaucrats. Two books on project cycle management and a book on advocacy were published by Bilgi University Press. One of the people that I published a joint publication with was the then General Director of Laws of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, now the Ambassador to Sudan, İrfan Neziroğlu. We present the books as evidence.
In 2011, I started working part-time for the Bernard van Leer Foundation, based in The Hague, the Netherlands. At the time, I provided consultancy for Marc Mataheru, who was working as the Turkey representative, in the fields of grant-making and technical assistance for the reduction of domestic violence against children between the ages 0-8 in Turkey. We have already presented the document about the work carried out by Marc Mataheru and the Foundation at that time and its notarized translation. I don’t know how being in contact with Marc is a crime. As it is simply a foreign name, the indictment tries to create such a perception. In this context, we provided financial support, in other words a grant, to the Conscious Family, Healthy Generations project that implemented in Beyoğlu with the Culture City Foundation established by Beyoğlu Municipality and working directly with the municipality. Between 2011 and 2016, nearly 1 million euros were donated to the Culture City Foundation, so to the Beyoğlu Municipality, for parental support programs. Within the scope of efforts to reduce domestic violence against children, in cooperation with Boğaziçi University, we provided financial support for national research. The results of this research were shared with Aşkın Asan, who was then the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Family Social Policies, in his office. The conversation I had on this research mentioned on pages 384 and 385 of the indictment, dated September 17, 2013, September 19, 2013 and September 26, 2013, were presented as if they were related to the Gezi events and evidence to keep me imprisoned for 220 days.
In September 2014, I began working as the Turkey Representative of Bernard van Leer Foundation. As a foundation, we launched activities to support the development of children ages 0-3 in Turkey with the municipal districts in Istanbul. To this date the AK Party municipalities of Beyoğlu and Sultanbeyli and CHP municipalities of Maltepe and Sarıyer participated in the study. We provided technical support to these municipalities through universities such as Boğaziçi, Kadir Has and Üsküdar, as well as provided grants to produce direct services. For example, Sultanbeyli Municipality received 220.000 Euro for a two-year project, and Beyoğlu Municipality’s Culture City Foundation received a 150.000 Euro grant. In November 2018, a few weeks before I was arrested, we met directly with Mayor Fatma Şahin in order to for the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality to benefit from this program and improve its services and we decided to cooperate in principle. Fatma Şahin is the victim no 7 in this case. Before the March 31 elections, we submitted a document containing the social projects that the AKP recommended within the scope of Gönül Municipality. It can be seen here that the project we are conducting with Sultanbeyli Municipality is proposed to other AK Party municipalities as an example.
On the other hand, I have voluntarily supported a wide range of activities within the scope of my expertise. One of them was The Rights of Conscripts formation monitoring various violations of rights during compulsory military service. I supported this formation, which helped citizens report to the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission any ill-treatment they suffered during military service. Within the scope of these studies, we met many times with Mr. Ayhan Sefer Üstün, the President of the Human Rights Commission of the The Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Mr. Naci Bostancı and Mr. İsmet Yılmaz, Minister of Defense of the time. Mr Yılmaz is victim no 22 in this case. We not only recommended solutions for the prevention of violations of rights but also helped the interlocutors and the press to recognise some problems. We created significant awareness in the press and the public about suicides during military service. We contributed to the repeal of a practice known as a discipline ward, which is a clear violation of many basic human rights such as fair trial and ill-treatment, and its serious consequences, by drawing attention to it.
At the same time, I decided to establish an association to contribute to peace process, also named as the solution process at that time. I called it the Dialogue and Reconciliation Center Association and convinced my close and civil society friends to become members. At the time, I also wanted to contribute to the solution process, which was one of the most important opportunities for the democratization of Turkey, beyond the provision of the ceasefire and silenced weapons towards social peace building. As someone born and raised in the westernmost part of the country, I felt a responsibility to contribute. I am surprised to see that some of the projects we were trying to carry out in that context are shown as accusations, and as if they were related to the Gezi events in this indictment. Until I found out that those who gave the decision to wiretap in those years were now deserters or some were in the same prison as me. In other words, I believe that in 2013, I was wiretapped by some prosecutors and police who are opposed to the solution process, and for this reason, I believe that the wiretaps decreased rapidly after December 2013. But I cannot understand the decision to use “revalued” wiretaps in such a case 6 years later.
We distributed approximately 1.5 million Euros in grants each year to various universities, civil society organizations and companies in Turkey through the Bernard van Leer Foundation, where I work as full-time Turkey Representative since 2014 and tried to raise awareness of the importance of ages 0-3 years. I am also mentioning about this matter in on page 62 of the police interrogation. The date of this talk is 13 September 2013 (ID: 2316238846). The age of 0-3 is the period in which 85% of the human brain develops. Despite an investment of around 5 million Euros for this period, we could not ensure that even 10 of every 100 mothers who were breastfeeding, and that we directly worked with, quit smoking. This amount and the humble target are important to compare with the $25,000, which we were looking for to prepare a book and is referred to as a crime in this indictment. During my detention on this issue, alleged news were reported in the so-called newspapers. The so-called journalists who wrote about this and made me a target pointed to an amount we were looking for and never received. If they did a simple Google search, they would have seen a grant of more than 10 times of this amount, and more than 50 times in total, which we provided to AK Party municipalities as the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Not seeing this is an example of malicious intent or great incompetence.
I quote from page 24 of the indictment: “The main reason for the uprising movement was understood to be the domestic and foreign policies pursued by the Justice and Development Party, as well as major infrastructure initiatives and projects that are being sought to be built in our country.” Despite this intangible argument, I supported community development being in a dialogue with different actors irrespective of party. For example, I suggested the work targeting disadvantaged 0-3 aged children and parents in Turkey to be done with municipalities and irrespective of party to the Foundation in the Netherlands. I showed efforts to establish relations with the AK Party-run municipalities. The Foundation Head Office did not specifically request it from me. I decided on this strategy in Turkey. In bringing up military-related issues, we communicated with both parliament and MPs from different political parties, the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Justice and the Minister of Defense. We worked with the parliamentary bureaucracy to explain how TBMM’s legislative and monitoring mechanism work. We worked with municipalities, Turkish Employment Agency and again Deputies regardless of the party. Despite that, a 657-page indictment, including strange expressions such as bringing the government down to its knees, demands an aggravated life sentence for me. I have been held in a 10 m2 cell for 7 months by myself, and I cannot understand why.
There is a fundamental issue that I want to emphasize with my background I explained here. While this indictment pretends to answer the question of how these events happened, it does not touch on the question of why these people did those at all. I wanted to declare that I did never have such a reason and political approach. I have never been on the side of momentary transformation that comes with violence. But I have been on the side of transformation. I paid attention to dialogue with stakeholders of the change. Working in the field of civil society, I found that this is a place where you can come together with people from different backgrounds, even if you are not the direct victim of many problems such as gender, discrimination, anti-war, Islamophobia. I believe that rights-based work is a more solution-oriented approach than pursuing a total change, and I still believe it. Rights and responsibilities are important. If you have responsibilities, but no rights, you’re a slave. If you have rights, but no responsibilities, you are a king. The balance of these two is the most fundamental element of citizenship and democracy. Civil society is the space where discussions and activities about between those are carried out. It is political in nature, but differs from political parties.
I would like to repeat the two basic messages I have given about civil society and civil society organizations here. First of all, civil society works as solution-based as I explained above and contributes to the transformation of the field of rights through social dialogue. So the members of civil society do not aspire to power, it is political parties that aspire to it. Therefore, civil society differs from political parties in that it neither seeks to replace those in power with itself or its holistic solutions. The demands of civil society are more modest. Reducing infant mortality, reducing violence against women or children, eliminating discrimination against different social groups and so on. The aim of civil society is not to eliminate the government but itself or rather the need for itself. For example, there are no longer organizations that demand womens’ right to vote and to be elected, to make primary school compulsory and universal, to close Istiklal Avenue to traffic or to demand Gezi Park remain as a park. This is not necessary. That part of the issue have already been taken care of.
Another important distinction is that civil society does not promote violence as a method. Civil society excludes violence. The actions and tools of civil society are non-violent. Otherwise, it could not be civil, civilized, urban. In other words, using force and violence to overthrow the government is not the field of civil society. I believe that violence is the last resort of the incompetent, as a writer I love says. Therefore, as a civil society and social development expert, I have never defended violence or a change that comes with violence. In other words, neither overthrowing government nor using force and violence are an attitude that I have been trained in, practiced or politically supported. In fact, all the wiretapping in the indictment and the files are related to the work I carry out as a volunteer, expert or researcher in the field of civil society. There is no talk about praising, promoting the violence or overthrowing the goverment.
So, I don’t know much about using force or violence, but I have learned a few things about child development in recent years both through my two children and in my professional work. First of all, I have pointed out that 85% of the brain develops in the period of the womb until 3 years old. In these years, more than 1 million connections per minute are established between the cells in our brain. When we are born, we can distinguish our mother tongue from others. 20 minutes after we’re born, we start reacting to facial expressions. We start to establish cause-effect relationships at the age of 1.5. When we push the cup on the table, we see it falls. That’s why we do it over and over again. We start to see a relationship between events. Around 3 years old, we realise that we can imagine and have relationships with people around these imaginations.
For example, my three-year-old daughter Leyla developed a bag that she has been playing with while I was gone. Occasionally she has been pulling a round book out of that bag. Then she has been reading the story of the blue lion in that round book to those who visit our home. There’s actually neither a bag, nor a book, nor a blue lion. Leyla can’t read either. Unfortunately, this 657-page indictment is as real and consistent as the blue lion in the round book in Leyla’s purse. There is no claim, no evidence, no proof, no cause-effect relationship, no organization, but there is a member of the organization, no crime, but there is guilty, and a demand for a reckless aggravated life sentence. Since I was taken at 6.30 am on November 16th from home by 8-10 police officers, there is no legal explanation for my being held alone in a 10m2 room, and this indictment does not even try to establish the simplest cause-and-effect relationships. So it doesn’t even try to use the most basic skills we all develop at the age of around 1.5. But it uses one of the most well-known propaganda methods and tries to create a perpetrated perception by repeatedly repeating the accusations that are limited to a few points. On average, it repeats the same thing in every 20-30 pages. For example, on page 42 of the indictment, it says: “… in this way, it was determined that they tried to obscure the inner side of their activities in order to bring money from abroad to be used in the schemes they had designed to serve their purposes and to implement the methods they were trained in the field.” Which purposes, which schemes, which money, which activities, which education, which method, which determining? None of them are available. None.
First of all, the only thing that is accepted as evidence about me is the 150 different wiretaps, between June 26 2013 and February 2014. It is impossible for me to remember these conversations from 6 years ago. It is not possible to make sure that the speeches are correct. Apparently, it was said that these wiretaps have been revalued and entered into the file last week. The voice recordings are still missing. I can only be sure of the contents of the police interrogation and indictment after listening to those tapes. I will leave explaining who made the wiretapping, who made the decision to wiretap again, how they are revalued to lawyer friends. They exceed the level of abstraction I can understand. Among those there is one tape in January 2014 and one tape in February 2014. In other words, wiretapping did happen intensely between June 26 and December 2013. In the indictment, 31 wiretaps are included, and the dates of the 42 conversations I had with Hanzade Germiyanoğlu on page 378 of the indictment are stated as between 4 February 2013 and 30 June 2013. The dates of my 8 communications with İnanç Ekmekçi are stated between 22 November 2012 and 10 June 2013. The context of this given number of conversations is not included in the police interrogation or indictment. Why? Because wiretapping starts on June 26, 2013. However, these names and the number of interviews have been placed at the beginning of the section related to me in the indictment and the perception is being tried to be created that these conversations happened before these dates, so before Gezi. That’s not the truth.
A flow of Gezi events is given between pages 65 and 90 of the indictment. Accordingly, the park was evacuated by the police on June 16. The police interrogation begins on 26 June 2013. The earliest listening on the indictment is dated June 30. In other words, as I said before, the wiretapping that are shown as concrete evidence that the Gezi events have been planned since 2011, begins after the evacuation of the park. How these can be evidence or how they establish the cause-effect relationship is not explained in the indictment. I would like to say again, there is no other wiretapping in the police interrogation or in the indictment except the wiretapping from June 26, 2013, which is 10 days after the park was evacuated. So, there is no more evidence against me.
Another oddity in the indictment is the organization and instruction-like expressions interspersed with the aim of creating perception in various places. I don’t know how to prove that I’m not involved in the organization which has no name in the indictment, no hierarchical relation, relations etc. There is no organization, but there are members of the organization. The same problem is repeated, there is no concrete evidence that we have planned the Gezi events since 2011 as a non-member of a non-existent organization.
In the indictment, it is frequently repeated that I received instructions and direction from Osman Kavala, another defendant in this case. As in the case of the organization, there is no evidence of this. But anyway, this is no longer a surprise to anyone. I think it is implied that I received these instructions and directions in a communication that happened in 2012 on his landline which took 35 seconds and its content is not found in any files. Therefore, another area that needs to be explained is how I did all these activities with the instructions and instructions I received in 35 seconds. On page 68 of my testimony at the Police Station, in a call I made in October 02, 2013 (ID: 2350251022), I said that I do “not have Osman Kavala’s mobile phone” and that “there was no easy way to reach him”. Needless to say after that, but still to record; indictment or any other evidence, no instructions, no directives. It is not a crime to know Mr. Osman, but I do not know him. I wish I had known because at least we could have talked something beyond than yelling each other to ask how we are doing in the prison corridor where we had the longest conversation.
Another important issue is the wide range of property damage, injury, etc. described throughout 657 pages. They are charges. In addition, on page 23 of the indictment, the words such as “how they direct the occurrence of violent incidents” or “violence-involved acts are explained” and then “turned into violent acts and an attempt at the government” are drawn to the violent parts of the events. In all the wiretapping about me, let alone violence, there is not the slightest insult.
But the fact that I bought the site name www.siddetsizeylem.org is described like a crime. As we explained in the expert report, nothing was published on this site during the time I had the domain name. Between pages 47 and 60 of this indictment there is detailed information on methods of nonviolent action. If it is a crime to take this domain name, then a much more serious offence is being committed in spreading non-violent action through the content of this indictment which is available to the public. More than 400 women are killed every year in this country. Violence and abuse against women and children are normalized as 3rd page news in newspapers. Thinking of defending nonviolent action, or simply buying a domain name in this direction is shown as a serious offence when even the names of a man who hospitalized three women by beating them in the middle of the street, another man who punched the Head of a political party, or even the men who had journalists hospitalized, are presented with their initials. I know it is a repetition, but I have been kept in a 10m2 cell by myself for 7 months, 220 days, for this reason. These guys I was talking about didn’t spend a night in custody. It’s hard even for logic to accept this.
As you can see on page 379 of the indictment, I explained the nonviolent action as “all kinds of political activity in the public sphere, but non-violent, in fact it is resistance without throwing stones.” Then I criticized the violence on page 384, “they threw fireworks like idiots”, then as “they scattered when fools threw out fireworks.” The date of these conversations is September 10, 2013, of course after the evacuation of the park. In addition, in my statement dated July 31, 2013 (ID: 2237413123) on pages 11 and 12 of the safety interrogation, I say that he cannot say “we saw that we needed them in the park, when we were arguing with people while in the park.” “So what do we do, we will not throw stones, but roses to cops?” In other words, my definition of nonviolent action is not about turning things into chaos or violence as it is indicated the indictment. There are also dozens of books published before and after the Gezi protests on nonviolent action and civil disobedience, as well as magazines, articles and films on the actions in the Gezi events. As I mentioned before, I have prepared or contributed to various publications in the field of civil society. Therefore, I do not understand how an attempt to prepare a publication on nonviolent action can be a crime. On the other hand, these publications are still in the 51 page indictment, dated July 31, 2013 I say that “it has examples that were made in Turkey, we are not importing anything from the CIA, OTPOR”. In the 29 page indictment it is said that “the findings, that Gezi Uprising was being organized with the Western finance, by the distributors that were trained by the Serbian professional revolution exporter in Turkey, will be presented”. As I mentioned before, it is clear that I am not interested in issues such as distributorship and export. I would like to state once again that civil disobedience repeated throughout the indictment is not exactly the same as nonviolent action and that I am only talking about nonviolence. In addition, on these pages, or anywhere in the tapes, neither the government nor members of the government nor any political authority are mentioned. So in fact, I was planning to document non-violent action and disseminate these forms of action, not to make the government bow down, but thinking it could be useful for the prevention of child brides, the reduction of violence in the solution process. However, in the end, such a publication was neither prepared nor published. No funds are planned for this publication. The only evidence here is that I have shared my intention to prepare this publication over the phone. We also provide the bank account statement of the Association as evidence. As can be seen, no such money was deposited into the account.
I refer to the man who plays the piano, the man who stands, and the iftars at the Earth Tables in a speech that the indictment often repeats. It neglects to give its dates probably because of a hurry, not bad intentions. The talk about these examples of nonviolent action that emerged during the Gezi events takes place on 31 July 2013, half a month after the park was evacuated. But when you see this in the indictment again and again, it gives the impression that I have encouraged them to happen. I’m not the guy who stands. Unfortunately, I can’t play the piano, so I’m not the guy who plays the piano either, and I didn’t even attend a single iftar at the Earth Table. We all know that neither standing nor playing the piano nor having iftar is a crime. Nevertheless, there is no other explanation in the indictment, that is, no evidence that shows how I am related to these actions, nor is there an effort to prove such a relationship. Even though we are unable to listen to the audio recordings so I am not sure, I’m sure I mentioned them as examples of nonviolent action.
Another issue mentioned in the indictment is the Dialogue and Reconciliation Center Association that I established. In short, as I mentioned earlier, I thought of establishing the association to make a modest contribution to the field of social peace in the solution process of the government. We made the application for the establishment of the Association on 26 June 2013 after the Gezi events. Our association books were registered on July 16, 2013. I thought it would be a good idea to document civil society in other countries to demonstrate their role in solution and reconciliation processes and to contribute to the end of violence. For this, we sought funds like every non-governmental organization does. We met with various organizations supporting international dialogue and reconciliation processes. As can be seen, we talked about the contribution of civil society to the social peace process. A European Commission grant project called Think Civil, mentioned in the police interrogation, gave a support for an event. With this support, we held a meeting on 16 November 2013 hosted by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. There is an effort to create the impression that this meeting was related to the Gezi events. We have already presented the booklet with the full notes of this meeting as evidence. This meeting has nothing to do with the Gezi events, and there is no evidence that it was, but we had already proved that it was not.
Another strange accusation is that I mention bringing Ivan Marovic to Turkey. I repeat: just mentioning. I don’t know Marovic. I have no relationship with OTPOR or Occupy. In fact, in my speech dated July 19, 2013 (ID: 2217090691) on pages 41 and 42 of the indictment, I said, “This is not about us …no no ehm …occupy… wants to… but it is not related with us.” I’m saying that Occupy is not involved in association activities. There is no counter evidence! At that time, Assoc. Dr. Havva Kökarslan asks my opinion, because the teacher who is going to teach nonviolence for the Conflict Resolution and Peace Building master program is ill. From the speeches on pages 9 and 100 in the police interrogation, we understand that this course has already been taught and that the teacher is ill. This speech is also on June 26, 2013, after the Gezi events. The date of the speech on July 31, 2013 according to the indictment on page 41. I tell Havva Kökarslan that there is such a man, but I am mentioning some doubts about him. Exactly as I say is “Otpor name was passed as something that they organized the events of the CIA so on. I mean, I don’t know, if you heard, something about that. There is a situation like this” At that time, I knew his name because I looked at the works carried out in this field in the world. But neither Marovic came to class, nor did I have any connection with him. I would like to give an example. If Dr.Havva Kökarslan told me that she needed a comedian, I would recommend her some of the names everyone might think of, for example Cem Yilmaz, and I would add that his salary might be high. But I don’t know Cem Yılmaz. Or just giving a name doesn’t make me a comedian. There is an effort to create a perception that there is a relationship by using the names and conversations in the indictment without giving any dates. Of course there is no other concrete evidence.
On the other hand, in order to explain how this nonviolence course is a standard course, I would like to provide the content of the Conflict Resolution Program currently being implemented by Ankara Social Sciences University as an evidence. As you will see there, nonviolence is an important and indispensable course in such programs.
There is only one activity in the indictment related to Gezi. And it is the meeting held on June 27, 2013 in Garaj Istanbul. In this meeting, what happened during the Gezi Events was discussed by the academics, activists and lawyers. I also learned from the indictment that the total number of participants was 31 in the meeting of which I was the facilitator. “Facilitation” is the translation of the facilitator in English. This is the term, like moderator that we know, used for large groups. From a recent discussion that we all watched, I think no one doubts the importance of the neutrality of the moderator any more. The most concrete example of the facilitator we know is the work of Ali Kırca in the program called Siyaset Meydanı, which we watched on TV for years. In the meeting, the facilitator does not take decisions or make speeches. The facilitator just tries to ensure everyone gets involved in the debate. Contribute to the meeting process. We are submitting documents on the training I have received in this field, trainings we have carried out on this topic in Turkey and some documents related to the facilitation of public institutions as an evidence. Neither is facilitation a crime nor organizing a meeting. But as you well know, the justification for my arrest starts with “although the meetings have aspects in the dark”. In other words, the reason for the arrest itself admits that the contents of the meetings could not be determined. We have enlightened these dark spots with the documents. But I was sent to prison instead of making use of reasonable doubt. On the other hand, this meeting is only one of the hundreds of the meetings that took place after the Gezi events. It is claimed that we are trying to spread and deepen the Gezi events to Anatolia with a single meeting held in Istanbul and even on the European side. I am repeating myself, but besides evidence that the meeting took place, there is no other evidence to prove that. There is no evidence even of how we plan to expand and deepen. In other words, according to the Ministry of Interior’s report, did I organize the actions of 2.5 million people in 79 provinces by myself? Well, if I did, what I was doing for six years?
In the indictment, my name is not mentioned at any stage before, during and after the Gezi events. Neither in the indictment nor in any of the tapes there is no evidence of my involvement with the Taksim Solidarity, the Taksim Platform, or its members. I have no relationship with Anadolu Jam or Baraka. I have no relationship with Anadolu Kültür. I have no relationship with the Open Society Foundation. On page 69 of the indictment, there are names of hundreds of associations, parties, unions and initiatives. I have no relationship with them. It’s not a crime to have a relationship anyways, but I don’t. I don’t know if there is a need to say, but I have nothing to do with OTPOR/Canvas. There is no evidence in the indictment regarding these relations. Let alone, there’s no evidence that I was even in Gezi. I didn’t sleep one night in Gezi. If I knew I’d be in prison for 220 nights, I’d have spent at least one night. My name is also not mentioned in the testimony of the police officer which is among the evidence. My name is not in the chronology. My name is also not there in the 2011-2013 period, which is claimed to be the time that the Gezi events were planned. I don’t even have a police statement in the case file. In fact, I know only Hanzade Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi and Hakan Altınay. I have no relationship with others. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. I have no tweets about Gezi, but there were more than 500,000 tweets overnight, millions of tweets in total. No Zello. No Whatsapp group.
In the conversation on 17 December 2013 on pages 389 and 390 of the indictment (ID: 2506888991), “unfortunately I didn’t have anything visual”, Havva said “If you have pictures, for example, there were articles, you gathered among yourselves and make certain things, let’s do it, let’s do it like that or something…”, Yiğit said “No such thing, unfortunately. None.” I mean, I don’t even have a photograph about such a social event that I planned, realized, expanded and deepened.
One can’t help but ask, then for what precaution I was arrested? Why didn’t I benefit from suspicion? Why am I in the indictment? Really, why am I there? Why have I been held in a cell in solitary for 220 days? Why am I here? Why am I being on a trial for aggravated life sentence?
Then, is it also possible to claim that; Is it possible to be added in different indictments in a situation when my name is never mentioned and all the so-called evidence is irrelevant after the events? I can only say, God forbid.
This indictment, which we almost had to read with a bleeding on our retinas, speaks for 657 pages but says nothing tangible. Another problem of the indictment is that it suffers from apophenia. Apophenia is a tendency to see random events, information and people as if there is a connection or a meaningful pattern. Therefore, I think that this indictment is the subject of other fields than the law. This is the first indictment I’ve ever seen. If all indictments are such, it is a pity to our legal system. No, if that’s just this indictment, then pity us. I can’t help but wonder if this inconsistency is actually the revalued 657 pages of another indictment, which is actually 1657 pages. The indictment on page 92 said sui generis. In my opinion, the sui generis indictment contains such contradictions throughout 657 pages.
The indictment is not even attempting to be as consistent as the blue lion in the round book in Leyla’s purse. In other words, it doesn’t explain the connection even a 3-year-old child makes, by re-establishing a series of successive events, how these events took place, how I’m involved, it doesn’t even worry about explaining. The indictment, which is apparently the product of a fertile imagination, does not hesitate to demand aggravated life sentence by fabricating a brand new position as an agent of influence. Fortunately, he doesn’t want our execution by valuing the execution. But it is useful to add a positive note. There is one issue where the indictment is consistent over 657 pages; it is the page numbers, luckily from beginning to end it progresses correct. At least this issue seems to be taken care of.
In short, does this indictment asks for an aggravated life sentence without worrying to reveal any concrete evidence because of this reason: Yigit Aksakoglu is a member of an organization that doesn’t exist. In 2012, he took instructions and guidance from Osman Kavala in 35 seconds and took part in the preparation of Gezi events. He did this with his contact with an individual called Marc and with $25,000 which he talked about getting from abroad. He talks about Ivan Marovic, so he has a relationship with him. He organized all of this only by talking with İnanç Ekmekçi and Hanzade Germiyanoğlu before the Gezi events. He has no contact with anyone else. These conversations have no content and are not necessary. Although the audio recordings are not in the file itself, all the tapes started 10 days after the evacuation of the park. He established the Association for Dialogue and Reconciliation for this even though it was after the Gezi events. He bought a website name called nonviolent action. He talks about the man who plays the piano, the man who stands and the Earth’s Table. Therefore, he encouraged all these actions. All other private and business-related conversations are related to Gezi events. He facilitated and deepened the Gezi events in Anatolia by facilitating 31 people attending a meeting held in Garajistanbul. Proof of all this is wiretaps that started after the park was evacuated. 5,000-odd actions in 78 provinces, thousands of articles, millions of people, millions of tweets, hundreds of festivals, magazines, books, etc. Yiğit Aksakoğlu did them all. Yiğit Aksakoğlu made the Gezi protests almost alone since he did not have a direct relationship with those are prosecuted in this case. Not enough, he deepened and expanded. In other words, by choosing the ones that are appropriate to our prejudice from thousands of details of the private and business life of Yiğit Aksakoğlu working in the field of civil society, these things we put down one by one are the only evidence we have. The fact that he only mentioned these issues is enough evidence for us to do all of this. We don’t even need any concrete evidence or simple information to demand an aggravated life sentence. We can do this by attributing a meaning to any conversation and social relationship we want. Even though there is no other evidence or information, it is also lawful and legitimate to keep Yiğit Aksakoğlu who has no criminal record or credit card debt, in a solitary cell for 7 months – 220 days as there is a possibility of him escaping and blackening or changing six-year-old tapes. So what would I do with overthrowing the government on my own with my approximately 600 twitter followers? Was I planning to replace all members of the government? This indictment without any other explanation is not consistent enough even for a cartoon scenario.
Now, what if we take me out of this indictment? What changes in terms of organizational hierarchy, flow of events, relationships, or cause-and-effect relationships that we cannot find in this indictment? Nothing! Nothing changes. In the same way, can we add 10 more people working in civil society in 2013, who are asked to be wiretapped by people who we don’t know and for a reason that we don’t know? We can add. Then why am I in this indictment? Everyone here, and unfortunately some people from Turkey and from the world know very well that from this trial you can neither turn Gezi into an uprising nor the case into a crime. Actually, I’m not the target of this case. In English, there is a saying; the elephant in the room. There is an elephant in the room that everyone sees and knows. But nobody talks about it. The elephant in the room is that this indictment was produced to justify unjust and long detention. Since such a crime could not be attributed to a person, several others like us were searched from the archive. So-called evidence fabricated by police and prosecutors who are part of the organization Fetö have been revalued. In other words, our legal system has become such that it punishes someone with long detention and performs operations to legitimize the long detention.
Someone who has no relation with the issue can be arrested, for the sake of arresting at least one person, with a justification which starts with a sentence like “although there are spots in the dark”. Does not hesitate to put 16 people in a bag, and prepare indictments that demand aggravated life sentence with hollow 657 pages. I think we are going far away from a functioning democracy and citizenship on the axis of rights and responsibilities.
Somehow, 8 days before my detention, on November 8, 2018, I saw things that appeared in some so-called newspapers and that were published as news. I also saw the ridiculous claim that we are trying to deepen and spread the Gezi events with the Garaj Istanbul meeting. However, on the morning of November 16, I was surprised that I was taken from my house with 10 police officers. Had I been called, I would have gone to testify. I mean, I didn’t run away in these eight days. I would have been here today even if I hadn’t been in solitary confinement in 10 m2 for 7 months, 220 days. Had I been outside and not in 10 m2 for 220 days, I also could neither have affected the wiretapping of 6 years ago, nor add anything to this indictment or evidence. Nor would it have been possible for me to obscure the wiretapping 6 years after it was carried out by the policemen and prosecutors who are members of FETÖ, and were probably against the solution process, marking the names and concepts that they did not understand and foreign names as bold and underlined. Believe me, I’m very worried that one day you will ask, “Do you regret it?” I don’t understand what I’m supposed to regret, nor exactly what crime I have committed. I have conducted civil society activities that are not only legal but also legitimate. There is no evidence that I have done anything other than that. Criminalizing the activities of civil society, such as meetings, training, fundraising and publication, is no different from criminalizing the activities of the private sector such as sales, marketing and production. Civil society has no other tools. Therefore, this indictment is also an effort to criminalize civil society in total. As an expert working in the field of civil society and social development, I have never stepped outside the legal and legitimate field. I’ve always ruled out violence.
In addition, the fact that those who lost their lives and were injured during the Gezi events were never mentioned in this indictment is a contradiction that is sad and cannot be overlooked.
Dear Chair, dear members, this case is not only about me or Gezi. This case is about a high wall that has long been put up between law and justice in Turkey and citizens. There are serious barriers to citizens’ access to even their most basic rights. I’m aware that what follows in this case will not break this wall. But your decision will either cause one stone to be removed from this wall or another stone to be placed on it.
I have been in isolation for 7 months and 220 days. But I can’t explain the situation to my employer in the Netherlands. I’m about to lose my job. My wife is in Istanbul alone, dealing with two children, her own business and the litigation process. So this situation creates grievance now and not only for me, but also creates long-term and unjust suffering for others. So at least I want someone to take responsibility for all this things that myself and my family have had to live through. If this is a nation of citizens based on rights and responsibilities, I want access to the most fundamental of my rights. I want my freedom.
Even if none of these happen, I want someone to answer 3 year-old Leyla when she asks “where you’re staying is not far away from home, why don’t you come?”, or 7 year-old Deniz asking “for what crime are you in jail?”. I want my release, then my acquittal, not so that I can obscure evidence or escape, but so that I can take my children to their schools for the last three days of this semester.
Thank you for listening to me.