Taksim Solidarity Platform set to sue state over Gezi protest crackdowns
Gezi Park protesters, including many members of Taksim Solidartiy Platform, were detained last June at the height of the demonstrations.The Taksim Solidarity Platform, a local association that initiated the demonstrations against the redevelopment project of Gezi Park that spread across the country last June, has announced that it is preparing to open a class action lawsuit against the state over the severe crackdowns on protesters.
Istanbul Chamber of Doctors General Secretary Ali Çerkezoğlu, a member of the platform, said they were seeking to strike back against repeated charges that the activists were members of a “criminal organization.”
“The platform is an organization protecting citizens against the plunder of the city. The criminal organization is made up of those who gave the orders for the police violence that killed young people, made them blind and injured thousands of people,” Çerkezoğlu said, adding that some of the victims in the protests had yet to file a complaint.
“We’re following the [ongoing] trials related to the Gezi protests and we’re working on turning the trials of those who were killed or injured into a social case,” he said.
Six protesters were killed in the wake of police crackdown during the protests: Mehmet Ayvalıtaş (20), Abdullah Cömert (22), Ali İsmail Korkmaz (19), Ethem Sarısülük (26), Medeni Yıldırım (18) and Ahmet Atakan (22).
Taksim Solidarity Platform members also refer to Hasan Ferit Gedik (21), who was shot to death in clashes during protests against the presence of drug gangs in Istanbul’s Gülsuyu neighborhood last September. In addition, a 15-year-old teenager, Berkin Elvan, remains in a coma after sustaining a head injury from a gas canister as he went to buy bread during a police crackdown in Istanbul last June.
Çerkezoğlu noted that the families of Cömert, Atakan and Elvan had yet to open legal processes. “We cannot [stop our work] while those who gave the orders, the governors of Istanbul, Ankara, Eskişehir and Hatay, are still on duty,” he said.
For her part, the platform’s pugnacious spokeswoman, Mücella Yapıcı, accused officials of cutting down trees in more than 1,000 square meters of the park.
“They organized a ceremony to show that they had decorated the park with flowers. They invited us, so we went and they then took us into custody. [Istanbul Mayor] Kadir Topbaş and the Kalyon construction company [which carried out the pedestrianization project of Taksim Square] should account for this,” said Yapıcı, who is also the general secretary of the Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) Istanbul branch.
“If in this country doctors’ chambers are sued for providing medical aid to injured people in the street, it is a crime not to stand trial,” she added, in reference to the government’s move to criminalize “unauthorized medical care.”
An indictment against members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform was recently rejected by an Istanbul court on the grounds that it failed to state which laws the suspects had violated.
Some 26 members of the platform had faced up to 29 years in prison on charges including founding a criminal organization, violating public order and organizing illegal protests through social media. But the court dismissed the prosecutors’ accusations, saying that the indictment should explain how the suspects founded and controlled an organization to commit crimes.
“The Taksim Solidarity Platform is legitimate. You cannot judge us in an illegitimate trial, but we will judge you, together with the people,” said Beyza Metin, a member of the platform.