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LOCAL > Raid on ‘Occupy Taksim Park’ demonstrators triggers outcry

ISTANBUL

Police staged an early morning raid on protesters bidding to protect trees from being cut down in a central park. However, the move seems to have backfired, with the protesters unmoved and support growing

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Thousands of demonstrators continued the sit-in in Taksim's Gezi Park on a third day, which opened with a harsh police raid. DAILY NEWS photo, EMRAH GÜREL

Thousands of demonstrators continued the sit-in in Taksim's Gezi Park on a third day, which opened with a harsh police raid. DAILY NEWS photo, EMRAH GÜREL

Demonstrations to prevent the demolition of a park on Istanbul's Taksim Square, which is due to be replaced with a shopping mall, entered their third day with police using tear gas at the break of dawn. However, the attack seems to have backfired, triggering more participation in the demonstrations during the day, which continued peacefully and festively.

A group of young demonstrators, who spent a third night in Taksim Gezi Park in an effort to halt the controversial demolition, woke up engulfed in huge clouds of tear gas fired by the police at 5 a.m. this morning. One demonstrator was hospitalized after the police’s attack.

The police used the Mass Incident Intervention Vehicle (TOMA) to disperse the demonstrators in the park, before seizing their tents. Some of the tents were burnt in the park, as the demonstrators remonstrated with civilian police officers for burning their tents.

After the police’s attack, the demolition vehicles resumed their work. One demonstrator who lay in front of a vehicle was forcibly removed.

MP in front of bulldozers

However, the demolition of the park was halted around 8 a.m. in the morning, after Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Istanbul Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder stood in front of the bulldozers, for a second day.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party announced May 30 that every day at least one CHP deputy would attend the protests and be on duty to prevent the demolition.

CHP Deputy Chair Umut Oran called on Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş to visit the scene and listen to the demands of the city’s residents. Oran said if the mayor could not convince the locals then the project had to be changed, addressing the reporters gathered in Gezi Park May 30.

Protesters launch petition as artists join them

Without being intimidated, activists continued their demonstration and organized workshops and other activities. Some read books sitting next to the police guarding the park, others prepared colorful banners while some protestors sang and danced together. They also launched a petition against the demolition of the park.

Activists and actors also joined the demonstrators in the park throughout the day, as the well-known talk show host Okan Bayülgen announced that he would stand guard at night by reading in the park. Outspoken artists such as stage actor Mehmet Ali Alabora, actress Şebnem Sönmez, writer Ece Temelkuran and journalist Can Ataklı also joined the demonstration to support the protest.

For a handful of trees: Environment minister

Gezi Park is a small area, Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu said, adding that there was only a limited number of trees. Eroğlu however vowed to plant "a hundred times more trees than are cut" in Gezi Park elsewhere. He said they had decided to plant 5 million trees in Istanbul, adding that the historical artifacts in the park would also be removed and protected. Eroğlu said he had not counted how many trees would be cut in the park.

The main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made a surprise support visit late May 29 to the several hundreds of demonstrators in Gezi Park. Kılıçdaroğlu promised that deputies from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) would take it in turns every day to stand guard together with the protestors against any attempt to bring back the bulldozers. He also vowed that the park would remain in place. CHP deputy chairman Gürsel Tekin claimed that the police’s early morning onslaught was caused by Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had voiced his determination to demolish the park and replace it with a shopping mall.

Duygu Doğan contributed to this report from the Istanbul bureau.

May/30/2013

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READER COMMENTS

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young genius

6/2/2013 12:10:49 AM

@john albay The "MINORITY"? Please check out the hundreds of people that have marched and protested. Other people don't join not because they don't agree but for their safety! Last thing they want is for a loved one to get hurt or even worse, killed!

john albay

6/1/2013 8:28:02 PM

@Dave chapman it is you who is insane!! You are not Turkish and again,dont like my country leave it,and please leave soon!! As for all the other left wing/do gooders/greens, you are just a small minority,the great majority want nice building,jobs and a good standard of living. The damage this so called demonstaters cause is unreal and they belong in jail!

Marie Nabob

6/1/2013 4:56:44 PM

Munsch said 'follow the money', absolutely correct. Find out the business interests of the Erdogan family in this mall and then expose it to all.

Brit in Turkey

6/1/2013 12:06:48 PM

US Observer: Your comment about Drudge Report probably doesn't mean much to those outside the US, but now I've checked with Wikipedia I understand. This type of publicity can only be good in the long run.

Disconnect 25

6/1/2013 9:30:21 AM

These demonstrations are really politicized. CHP, BDP they are just playing their politics.

JRC JRC

6/1/2013 2:21:15 AM

@john albay. Let me pick your comment apart. No homes will be built on Gezi Park land, parking will be for the shopping centre only and the public car park existing now will be removed (so less spaces for the public), there is a massive shopping centre not more than 2km away plus the major shops are all represented on Istiklal Cad already. Cities need parks, all studies show this to be true, but in Turkey profit comes before all.

Murat

6/1/2013 2:10:46 AM

This is of course more than about trees. Though most Istanbulians are sick of daily rape and plunder of their city that has become a play ground of AKP friends and trees are very dear to all Turks. How ironic that Erdogan is using Assad tactics and Turkish police begins to resemble IDF.

US Observer

5/31/2013 8:48:23 PM

Hey Turkey made Drudge Report with this incident...

Dave Chapman

5/31/2013 7:08:41 PM

@ John Alby: are you criminally insane? The one thing that Istanbul needs DESPERATELY, is more green space, BIG green spaceS. Would you advocate that that tiny green lead-ridden strip beside the motor way is perfectly adequate for my children to play, perhaps if the 'council' can install a few more plastic twisty spinny things for 'exercise' that would be just peachy. MAN! There is a vast new sub city already about to be built massacring more trees and green space...what more do you need/want?

Dave Chapman

5/31/2013 6:54:30 PM

I'm just watching the pictures of the raid on Taksim Park and the ensuing pursuit through the streets..... I am absolutely struck dumb. Is it not the right of people to protest and is it not ONLY permitted to use force (especially gas) when under violent attack? The protestors are innocent, sure as hell the poor folk in the street, traders and the poor people stuck in the train station when gas attacked!!! WAKE UP TURKEY, YOU ARE UNDER ATTACK BY YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT. utter disgrace. shame on you
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