(AINA) -- When speaking about the Ottoman Empire and Turkey today, it is not their contribution to civilization that comes to mind. Instead it is human rights violations, confiscation of land and property, genocide and genocide denials that are most frequently discussed in the public discourse. Today's Turkey is still far from being ruled by democratic principles. Thousands of journalists, human rights activists, and opponents of the government are in jail or in exile. Osman Kavala is only one of these human rights defenders.
Osman Kavala and thousands more journalists, human rights defenders and opponents of the government are in jail because they have committed a crime. Their crime is longing for a different Turkey from Erdogan's Turkey. They wanted to have a democratic Turkey that confronts its history and respects human rights. Therefore, the international community should put all necessary pressure on the Turkish government and stand in solidarity with Osman Kavala and others who are working for a free Turkey.
It is very hard to speak about freedom of speech in Turkey because it doesn't exist. It is free in Turkey to worship and applaud Erdogan, but it is dangerous to criticize him. It is free in Turkey to sympathize with ISIS, but it's forbidden to write about it and the Turkish support of ISIS. The renowned Turkish journalist Can Dundar, who wrote and published photos of the Turkish government delivering weapons to ISIS in Syria, was threatened with death and forced into exile. He now lives in Germany.
It is free in Turkey to confiscate the land of the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek people. It is free to confiscate the land of St. Gabriel Monastery. But it's forbidden to question the Turkish government's stance towards Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and their support to Hamas and Hezbollah. It is free in Turkey to worship and applaud Erdogan, but it is dangerous to criticize him. Under such circumstances Turkey is not a place for critical thinking and free thought.
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