Georges Dassis, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), said on Thursday he was disappointed by the detention of human rights activist and prominent businessman Osman Kavala in Turkey and urged his immediate release.

In a letter to Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı, Turkey’s permanent representative to the European Union, Dassis said he regrets seeing Kavala publicly incriminated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in advance of any judicial process.

Underlining that Kavala is a major exponent of Turkish civil society, as a prominent businessman has devoted time, money and energy to generously support important civil society projects including refugee relief and various social and cultural initiatives to foster peace, democracy andunity through cultural diversity, Dassis described Kavala as a defender of human and civic rights, children’s rights in particular.

According to Dassis, persecution and detentions that often take place with scant evidence and scarce transparency following a failed coup last year are undermining democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law in Turkey.

Dassis urged Turkish authorities to release Kavala and take the necessary steps needed towards positive reforms to protect and consolidate the rule of law and democracy ensuring fundamental rights and freedoms in a safe environment of consultation, dialogue and consensus required for the operation of civil society.

Kavala, chairman of the İstanbul-based Anadolu Kültür Association, was detained by Turkish police upon his arrival at İstanbul Atatürk airport on Oct. 18.

Turkish President Erdoğan on Tuesday said Kavala was behind the Gezi protests of 2013, calling him Turkey’s George Soros.

(Turkish Minute)