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International Association of Modern Art Museums Protests ‘Harassment’ of Cultural Professionals in Turkey

Osman Kavala.

COURTESY FREE OSMAN KAVALA

The International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) has issued a statement decrying the arrest and detainment of Turkish arts administrator Osman Kavala, the cofounder and executive board chair of Turkey’s Anadol Kültür, a nonprofit that runs the Diyarbakır Arts Center. Kavala was arrested by the Turkish government in 2017 amid accusations that he had funded terrorist groups and ran the organization that supported a failed a military coup in 2016. The allegations had been disseminated via publications aligned with the Turkish government and are believed by many inside and outside the country to be false.

Kavala has been in solitary confinement ever since, and his detainment touched off a wave of activism in Turkey, where his fate has been viewed as an example of government forces limiting the rights of cultural professionals in the country.

CIMAM’s statement expressing solidarity with Kavala describes the organization as “deeply concerned by these events which it considers to be in violation of Turkey’s commitments to human rights and the fundamental freedoms of transparent debate and the exchange of ideas within society. CIMAM believes this situation represents systematic harassment of leading cultural professionals and we wish to express our solidarity with our colleagues in Turkey. CIMAM asks for Osman Kavala to be immediately released and for a lifting of the travel bans and an immediate resolution of the cases against the individuals listed above.”

Other employees of Anadol Kültür were detained last November, including Asena Günal, the executive director of the organization’s Istanbul office, and Yiğit Ekmekçi, the deputy chairman of the organization’s board. Most of the employees were released several days later after being questioned and banned from travel.

CIMAM’s complete statement can be read on the organization’s website.

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