Gezi Park protesters hold forums to discuss next move

Gezi Park protesters hold forums to discuss next move

Gezi Park protesters hold forums to discuss next move

A speaker addresses a public assembly of protesters at Istanbul's Gezi Park, on June 14. AFP photo

Following the government’s commitment to conform to a court decision that would suspend the redevelopment plans for Gezi Park, the protesters have formed discussion forums in order to decide their next move. 

Representatives of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, who participated in a late night meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 13, detailed the content of the negotiations and explained the government’s messages. 

Taksim Solidarity Platform Spokesperson Bilge Seçkin said that the protesters would themselves decide the next step. “We will discuss it by forming seven different forums which will show the tendency. Everyone will have an equal right to speak,” she said, adding that the platform wished for the emergence of a common will after the discussions. 

“We are at a critical threshold and this is a place which everyone came to with their own free will. We want them to express their own will,” she said. Seçkin also added that the discussions did not have a deadline and would continue until a common decision was reached. 

Commemoration for the victims

The protesters also commemorated with one minute of silence the three victims of the protest. Ethem Sarısülük, a protester allegedly shot by the police in Ankara, was declared brain dead and his life was severely at risk at the time of the commemoration. 

Meanwhile, a group calling themselves “Anti-capitalist Muslims” performed their second Friday prayers at the park, while protesters formed a human chain around them to prevent people disrupting their worship. 

Scholar İhsan Eliaçık, who is the leading figure of the group, said they were showing a human stance by coming to Gezi Park in support of the protests. “We will still come even though those who oppressed us were here,” he said.

The protesters have viewed positively the government’s agreement to comply with a court order that suspended the construction of the Artillery Barracks which was planned on the site. Erdoğan had assured July 14 that even if their appeal against the decision was upheld, the project would be put to a referendum. However, some protesters demanding more concrete guarantees were reportedly planning to pursue their sit-in until an irreversible assurance of the fate of Gezi Park was given.