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Yet another 'coup attempt' in Turkey

Turkish authorities are threatening life imprisonment for 35 Besiktas soccer fans on charges of trying to overthrow the government based on their participation in the Gezi Park protests.
Besiktas fans throw plastic chairs onto the pitch during the Turkish Super League derby soccer match between Besiktas and Galatasaray at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul late September 22, 2013. Hundreds of fans halted the Istanbul derby after storming the pitch at Istanbul's Olympic Stadium on Sunday, local media reported. Galatasaray were leading 2-1 in the third minute of added time when the match was halted, sending the players sprinting for the safety of the locker rooms. Picture taken September 22,

On Sept. 9, an Istanbul court approved an indictment requesting “aggravated life imprisonment” for 35 soccer fans who support Besiktas, Turkey’s oldest soccer team, and who call themselves the Carsi group (the Bazaar group, in English). Their alleged crime does not, however, involve sports, but the Gezi Park protests they joined in July 2013. Prosecutors argued that the protests were not an ordinary affair, but a “coup attempt” as criminalized by the Turkish Penal Code in Article 312: “Any person who attempts to dissolve [the] Government of [the] Turkish Republic, or [takes advantage of the government while it is under threat] is punished with … life imprisonment.”

How could a bunch of protesters, who had no weapons, dissolve the government of Turkey? The prosecutors noted that a gun and some bullets had been found in one of the suspect’s homes. There was no evidence, however, that the gun had been used during the Gezi protests. A prosecutor noted that the protesters had marched toward the prime minister’s office in Besiktas, in Istanbul, possibly with the intent of storming it. More tellingly, the indictment stated the following: “It has been observed that the suspects tried to bring the world’s attention, especially that of the foreign media, to the events, to create an image similar to the Arab Spring, with the aim of ousting the legal Turkish government by illegal means.”

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