Istanbul governor holds midnight meeting with Gezi Park protesters
Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu told protesters that he had been wanting to organize such a chat since the beginning of the demos.Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu came together with young protesters at midnight June 13, in an informal meeting at a café on the shores of the Bosphorus in Dolmabahçe, a neighborhood that was the center of violent clashes two weeks ago.
Mutlu, much criticized after the police’s disproportionate use of force in violent raids on Gezi Park, had given an appointment a few hours before via his Twitter account to young people who started the demos with a “sincere sensibility” for the environment for a tête-à-tête chat. Mutlu had also shared his personal cell phone and called on people at Gezi Park "not to hesitate" giving him a ring.
During the midnight discussion, Mutlu told protesters he had wanted to organize such chat since the beginning of the demos. “You might believe it or not, but it’s only now that we had such an opportunity because of the turn of events. We should have done it before. This is a shortcoming, but I can’t think about everything,” Mutlu told dozens of protesters that attended his call.
Mutlu also reiterated his wish to visit the park on the insistence of the protesters, who invited him for lunch at the soup-kitchen of the community occupying Gezi.
For their part, the protesters expressed their anger regarding the heavy-handed police intervention in peaceful demos. They also shared their discomfort over the stigmatization of the demonstrators by the officials insisting on the activities of “marginal groups.” “I’m not a marginal. I’m someone who uses his democratic rights,” one protester told the governor.
Mutlu acknowledged that part of the younger generations felt unhappy because they did not “feel free enough.” “We were thinking that we had progressed, but there is a youth who is not happy,” he said.
Istanbul governor had assured before the meeting that no police intervention was planned during the night. He also repeated his call for an end to the demos, saying the mothers of the young people at Gezi should "bring their children home."