Main opposition leader lends full support to protesters occupying Taksim Gezi Park

Main opposition leader lends full support to protesters occupying Taksim Gezi Park

Main opposition leader lends full support to protesters occupying Taksim Gezi Park

A group is continuing its sit-in protest at Taksim’s Gezi Park, as they stay in tents at night, resembling the Occupy Wall Street actions in the US. DAILY NEWS photo

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made a surprise support visit late May 29 to the demonstrators protesting against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park. The protest had entered into its second day after locals braved an intervention of the police armed with tear gas to start a sit-in to protect one of the last green public spaces in the center of Istanbul.

Kılıçdaroğlu promised that Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies would take turns every day to stand guard together with the protesters against any attempt to bring back the bulldozers. He also vowed that the park would remain in place. “The park will stay here, the mall will go,” he said in reference to a project led by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality with the blessing of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to rebuild an Ottoman artillery barracks building. The project involves converting the barracks into a shopping mall and possibly a residence with "social facilities."


Main opposition leader Kemal
Kılıçdaroğlu vowed his party's 
support for the Gezi Park protest.
DHA photo

Yet Kılıçdaroğlu was not alone and support poured in to the Taksim demonstrators especially from artists. Notably, the lead actor in the Turkish film “Fetih 1453: The Conquest of Constantinople” had refused to join the May 29 Istanbul "conquest anniversary celebrations" and joined the festive camp.

“[To the] Istanbul mayor and governor, who invited me as guest of honor to the anniversary celebrations of Istanbul’s conquest: I am not with you on this day, I will be in Gezi Park,” Devrim Evin, “the conqueror,” posted on his Twitter account in protest at the attempts to demolish the iconic park.

Whatever protesters do, the park will be demolished: PM

Meanwhile, Erdoğan dismissed the protests saying: “Whatever you do, we have made a decision and we will do it.”

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Istanbul’s third bridge over the Bosphorus, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Erdoğan invited protesters to research the city’s history. “If you have respect for history, first you need to learn the history of Gezi Park.” Erdoğan added that the area had been the site of the “Topçu Kışlası” (Artillery Barracks) and the work aimed to reconstruct the barracks.