Court releases Gezi Park protesters and Taksim Solidarity members charged by prosecutor
The released Gezi protesters leave the Istanbul courthouse, greeted by cheers from hundreds of gathered supporters. DHA photo
An Istanbul court has ruled for the release of 12 Gezi protesters, including members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform that pioneered the nationwide demonstrations, who were charged with "forming an illegal group to commit crime" by the prosecutors.
The panel of judges said there was no concrete evidence for the arrest of the five people charged "establishing an illegal organization to commit crime," including platform spokeswoman Mücella Yapıcı and Istanbul Medical Chamber General Secretary Ali Çerkezoğlu. The other seven protesters charged with "resisting the police" and "violating the demonstration and rally law," were released for lack of evidence.
After the announcement of the ruling, a spokesperson for the Taksim Solidarity Platform said the resistance would continue, despite the ongoing police repression.
"We have been resisting the [ruling Justice and Development Party's] oppression for 45 days. They are attacking us with tear gas and rubber bullets and taking us into custody, but we still resist," the spokesman said to the hundreds gathered in front of the Istanbul courthouse to show their support during the hearing.
"The Taksim Solidarity Platform has been called a criminal organization in the summary of proceedings. But the real criminals are those who prepared that summary of proceedings," he said.
Seven members of Taksim Solidarity were taken into custody on July 8, when the police also conducted a series of house searches in connection with the Gezi Park protests.
The platform is a leading organization against the construction of the shopping mall project in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, and has been prominent since the early stages of protests.
Police report charge platform for 'spreading protests'
Meanwhile, the Taksim Solidarity Platform has been charged in a police report with provoking people to take to the streets, causing injuries, and managing all protests across the country through its calls on social media, daily Radikal reported.
The Istanbul Police Department’s report cited a number of calls issued by the platform, sent via its Twitter account, and claimed that the platform prevented the use of Gezi Park as a public space by occupying it. It also claimed that the platform defamed the police, caused damage to business places, caused people to pour into the streets leading to injuries, and managed all the protests across the country via its Twitter and Facebook accounts after May 21.
The police report said the platform played an active role in the spreading of the Gezi Park protests through its calls on Twitter and Facebook, which “threatened the public order.”
“In its tweets and statements – such as ones saying, ‘We chase the TOMAs’ - the police are represented as an enemy, and citizens are mobilized in this way,” said the report.
“Their call for thousands of people to gather in Taksim Square prepared the ground for the marginal groups’ provocations, it also added. “[They] caused the injuries of hundreds of police officers and citizens and the calls continued despite these injuries,” it added.
The names who allegedly mobilized people are cited as Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) head Eyüp Muhcu, City Associations’ spokesperson Cem Tüzün, Taksim Solidarity member Derya Karadağ, Chamber of Electrical Engineers Istanbul branch head Beyza Metin, Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) Secretary Canan Çalağan, Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) General Secretary Arzu Çerkezoğlu, Istanbul Medical Chamber General Secretary Ali Çerkezoğlu, and Chamber of City Planners Istanbul branch head Tayfun Kahraman.
The police report also claimed that the platform managed all the protests across the country based on documents allegedly seized during the search of architect Mücella Yapıcı’s house. Çerkezoğlu, Yapıcı, Metin, as well as People’s Democratic Congress (HDK) Executive Board member Ender İmrek and Haluk Ağabeyoğlu, are also named as “people who mobilized or organized the incidents.”
Turkish Communist Party (TKP) central executive board member Erkan Baş and nine others are also defined in the report as “exchanging provocative writings on social media encouraging people to go to Gezi Park.”