World Bulletin/News Desk
The protests which started in reaction to a construction project in Taksim, Istanbul turned into nation-wide demonstrations against the AK Party Government on June 1st and 2nd, leaving one death, dozens of injuries during clashes with police, and hundreds arrested.
The decision for the pedestrianization of Taksim Square, the so-callled Gezi Park Project, including expansion of pedestrian roads by taking the automobile traffic underground and re-building a historic military barracks called the Topcu Kislasi, originally built in Taksim in 1780 and destroyed in 1940, was approved in February 2012. According to officials the new project was not going to decrease, but increase, the green areas in Taksim.
Accordingly, on May 27 Monday night the Gezi Park walls facing the Elmadag area were demolished by construction workers. Shortly after, a group of protesters came to the park to prevent the further uprooting of trees and demolition of walls, for what they believed aimed at constructing a shopping mall in addition to the historic military barracks.
Officials and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said there was neither a concrete plan nor an intention to build a shopping mall in the area. Some observers said the issue-based dissent with a specific demand was turning into an ideological opposition with no clear goals. Some even claim they had now one common point, which was their hostility towards the AK Party government. Involvement of some leftist, illegal and violent organisations in protests such as DHKP-C which was responsible for attacking US Embasssy in Ankara was reportedly established.
On the first and second days of the events, the police have tried to manage the crowds. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the excessive use of tear and pepper gas, while the Interior Ministry has launched an investigation.
On June 1st, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas called the representatives of Taksim Gezi Park Platform and the Chamber of Architects for discussing the project, however under pressure from the protesters they refused to participate.
On the same day, police were ordered to withdraw from the Taksim Square and protesters and citizens have been allowed into the Gezi Park.
While in capital Ankara, as well, the groups were allowed to protest in Guven Park, Kizilay, the central square of the city. As some individuals tried to storm the Prime Ministry’s main building, the police intervened to stop them from attacking ministerial buildings.
On June 2nd Sunday, protests spread to provinces, joined by people of various backgrounds, during which few clashes erupted as some radical groups tried to manipulate the peaceful demonstration.
In his speeches on June 2nd and June 3rd, Erdogan, acknowledging the protestors' right to dissent and protest, underlined that there were the extremists who sought to manipulate those who participated in the demonstrations with good intentions and those extremists were largely responsible for clashes with the police, attacking public buildings, police cars, media, private shops and other places after the police had been ordered to withdraw.
Other government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc and Interior Minister Muammer Guler confirmed citizens’ right to protest in a peaceful manner.
Starting from Sunday, attacks to Prime Minister's office at Dolmabahçe, by extremist elements among demonstrations were causing a lot of damage. Attackers were throwing stones and using clubs.
As of Tuesday June 4rd, one person died during the demonsrations in Hatay's Reyhanli town which was previously hit by blasts on May 11, among the injured, 64 were civilians and 244 were police.Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2013, 18:09