17 detained after fresh protest at Istanbul's Gezi Park

17 detained after fresh protest at Istanbul's Gezi Park

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
17 detained after fresh protest at Istanbuls Gezi Park

A German human rights activist, Klaus Müller (L), was detained at Istanbul's Gezi Park July 30. Hürriyet photo

A total of 17 people, including a German activist, were detained on July 30 as a result of a minor police intervention at Taksim’s Gezi Park in yet another struggle between police forces and Istanbul demonstrators over the historic green spot.

The scuffle occurred after Members of the Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) completed a press conference dealing with an upcoming new bill in a nearby Taksim hotel, and entered the park, following talks with the police, to read a press statement, Doğan news agency reported.

Once the statement was read, the forces began conducting identity checks on all those inside the park, including a group of homeless individuals who had been living in the park. Those who refused to show IDs or did not have any valid identification with them were detained.

Beyoğlu municipality workers also began removing symbolic tombstones placed in memory of those who died during the protests. German human rights activist Klaus Müller then stepped in and tried to stop the workers from throwing away the stones, prompting police forces to take him in as well. Müller chanted in German, English and Turkish as he was hauled away by officers, according to reports. Müller was later released.

The park’s fate has been uncertain for days with police forces intervening intermittently, with authorities opening and shutting down the park several times in recent weeks. A group of people who wanted to organize an iftar dinner at the park on July 28 also met with police opposition; the park was soon evacuated and several people were detained. Four suspects were subsequently released and two others were sent to court on July 30 to face charges of “opposing the law on public marches and demonstrations.”

Meanwhile, a series of morning raids occurred in different cities across the country, led by the capital city’s counter-terror squads. At least nine people were detained as a result of operations which took place in the early morning hours in Ankara, İzmir, Samsun, Mersin and Tunceli. Five more were detained in Hatay for “attending illegal demonstrations on behalf of terrorist organizations,” according to Anadolu agency.

More demonstrations to come: Deputy PM

More demonstrations will be taking place in the upcoming days, and will be looking to make headlines “in different ways and for different aims,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said July 29 during a televised interview with the state broadcaster TRT.

“We have intelligence with regard to planned demonstrations in different ways and with different aims in the upcoming days. They may use sports events as excuses, or the opening of schools in the fall. They may behave in ways we’ve seen in the past for days that mean different things to them. That cannot be allowed,” Arınç said.

The deputy prime minister also added that “anytime they step outside of law, the rule of law will intervene.” Arınç said future demonstrations may attempt to cloud the public sphere ahead of local elections and to “put fear and worry in everyone.”