Istanbul hotel that sheltered Gezi protesters during crackdowns rejects ‘slanderous accusations’
Protesters are engulfed in tear gas and sprayed by water canons at the entrance of the Divan Hotel in Istanbul, June 15, after being chased out of Gezi Park. AP photoThe Divan Hotel, which sheltered Gezi Park protesters and bystanders injured by the police’s repeated violent crackdowns against demonstrations in Istanbul, has expressed its indignation over the “slander attempts regarding its humane attitude during the events.”
“The humane approach shown by the Istanbul Divan Hotel is being linked to slanderous purposes unrelated with its intentions,” the hotel said in its first official statement after the incidents.
The hotel also categorically rejected accusations that some protesters had prepared “Molotov cocktails” in their rooms. “Our hotel has been proclaimed with unjustified accusations as one of the parties of the process. All these groundless accusations have been shared with the public opinion with false images and photographs,” the statement said.
The hotel also said that the parking in front of the building, which was used as an infirmary during the police crackdowns, belonged to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s parking services ISPARK.
The Divan Hotel, located on the Harbiye side of Gezi Park, had opened its doors to protesters running from police since the beginning of the protests. Dozens of demonstrators escaped into the hotel after the police attacked with water cannons and tear gas those attending a press statement on the morning of May 31. The statement was condemning the dawn raid on Gezi Park a few hours earlier.
The hotel became a central refuge during the heavy-handed crackdown on the night of June 15, allowing medics to perform first aid on injured protesters. The police had been harshly criticized for putting the hotel under siege for almost the whole night, even firing tear gas into the lobby of the building and trapping people inside.
However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended the security forces’ actions, accusing the hotel of sheltering “those who attacked the police.” “You know, according to the law harboring [suspects] is also a crime,” he said, while also describing the police's behavior throughout the Gezi Park protests as "heroic."
Many reporters covering the Gezi events, who had also taken shelter inside the hotel, took photographs of the injured protesters. The German Greens co-chair Claudia Roth also received medical attention at the hotel.