Yiğit Aksakoğlu is a civil society professional working on matters related to children’s rights. He worked at TESEV (Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation) and Istanbul Bilgi University’s NGO Research & Education Division. Since 2011, he has been a consultant, among others for the Turkish representative of the Dutch Bernard van Leer Foundation for early childhood development.
Yiğit Aksakoğlu was charged with facilitating the non-violent demonstrations at Gezi Park in 2013. Aksakoğlu was taken into custody and jailed on 16 November 2018. He was in pre-trial detention without an indictment until February 2019, when the Istanbul chief prosecutor finally submitted an indictment to the Court.
Of the thirteen people that were detained on 16 November 2018, only Aksakoğlu was arrested. Evidence used against him includes organising meetings, even though the precise content of these meetings was not ascertained. The Court however stated that it was convinced they were aimed at propagating and reinitiating civil disobedience and demonstrations similar to those in Gezi Park.
Due the many rights violations during the judicial process according to both Constitutional and European law, Aksakoğlu’s lawyers lodged an individual complaint to the Constitutional Court on 1 March 2019. They argued that, amongst others, his examination of arrest was conducted without a hearing and his requests for release were rejected without a justification. There is no ruling on this yet.
Aksakoğlu was placed under the ‘Gezi Park indictment’, together with fifteen others from a different case who are also being accused of facilitating the Gezi Park protests. The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 30th Criminal Court on 4 March 2019.
The Court released Aksakoğlu on probation at the first hearing held on 24 June 2019. Next hearing will be held on 18-19 July 2019.
On 16 November 2018, 13 human rights defenders and academics were taken into custody while their homes were being raided. According to the statement released by the Istanbul Security Governorate, these individuals were detained for allegedly “organizing and financing” the 2013 Gezi protests and for “acting in a hierarchical order with businessperson Osman Kavala,” who at the time had already spent more than one year without an indictment in prison.
Of the 13, 12 detainees were released on probation and with a travel ban on 17 and 18 November 2018. Unlike the other suspects, a court in Istanbul decided to arrest Yiğit Aksakoğlu on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from performing its duties.”
On 19 February 2019, when the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that the Gezi Park protests investigation and its indictment, including Yiğit Aksakoğlu, were completed, Aksakoğlu had already spent three months in jail.
On 4 March 2019, the Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court approved the Gezi indictment. The 657-page indictment seeks aggravated life imprisonment for 16 individuals on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from performing its duties,”* including Osman Kavala, Yiğit Aksakoğlu and 14 other human rights defenders. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the Prime Minister during the Gezi protests, 27 cabinet members, and 746 unnamed individuals are listed under the “Victims/Plaintiffs” section of the indictment.
The first hearing of the case was held on 24 June 2019. 9 defendants** presented their defense at the hearing. The court released Aksakoğlu on probation, but ruled on the continuation of Kavala’s detainment.
At the second hearing held on 18 July 2019 the defendants’ attorneys presented their additional defenses. The Court dismissed the request for release of Osman Kavala and ruled on the continuation of detainment. The next hearing will be held on 8-9 October 2019.
To see a detailed analysis of the case prepared by the Human Rights Watch, please click here.
*Those who are named as “suspects” in the indictment are the following: M. Osman Kavala, A. Mücella Yapıcı, A. Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, H. Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Ş. Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi.