Turkish animal rights activist investigated for terrorism 6 years after Gezi Park protests

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A scene from Turkey's famous Gezi Park protests, held in June 2013.

Turkish prosecutors have launched a terrorism-related investigation into Burak Özgüner, coordinator of the Committee for Monitoring Animal Rights (HAKİM), over his work regarding animal rights violations during the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Tuesday.

Özgüner reportedly became aware of the probe when he made a records inquiry at the courthouse, something he does every time he passes by. His lawyers then tried to get access to the file, but they were prevented by the prosecutor, who decided to make it confidential.

After repeated requests, the prosecutor’s secretary told Özgüner that the investigation was launched over a public statement calling on people to “commemorate all living beings lost during the Gezi resistance.”

It was a call to raise awareness for many animals which during the anti-government protests in 2013 were affected by the violent clashes and were brought to his and other clinics. It was also an announcement of a report he and his colleagues had prepared for submission to an animal rights organization in Geneva.

“I don’t know what I’m accused of or how our commemoration was linked to terrorism, but I am not surprised,” he said. “Anyone at any time in this country can be investigated for terrorism.”

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