June 18th, 2013 Press Release


Cutting the trees at Gezi Park, attacking people camping at Gezi at the crack of dawn with water cannons and tear gas, using rubber bullets and spraying millions of protesters with chemicals was not the end of police violence. It is still full on, now with the help of thugs armed with sticks and knives.

Four people have already died during the protests, hundreds were injured and disabled. Ethem Sarısülük was shot with a bullet in Ankara. Now the government has started a “witch hunt”. Hundreds of Turkish citizens, who claimed their park, insisted on their demands and asked for more freedoms have been collected from their homes in the early hours of the morning. Police brutality in the form of custody and arrests is forced upon people exercising their democratic rights. Members of trade associations, unions and political parties are being arrested far and wide. There is an atmosphere of oppression and fear.

253 people have been arrested in Istanbul and 142 in Ankara. The number is on the rise all over the country. We demand the immediate release of everyone under police custody and an end to this anti-democratic policy. We expect health reports on the 7822 people -59 of whom are in critical condition – injured as a result of police violence. Those responsible for this severe picture and the deaths of 4 people should be held accountable, deposed and taken to court.

Responding to democratic protests with police violence followed by mass custody and arrest operations is an all-too-familiar state tradition in Turkey. The current government is doing this on an unprecedented scale. Every coup d’etat, every authoritarian episode had brought along mass arrests in Turkey. The Gezi Park resistance had risen above these outdated authoritarian methods with its popularity, pacifism, legitimacy and creativity. Marches, pots and pans, human chains, and “standing people” have all been transformed into platforms of democratic response.
The demands which started off in Taksim are widely shared now. There is no going back. Tree cutters returned to the park through the council planting new trees and flowers. A proper explanation and apology would have been more meaningful than this perfunctory self-criticism.

Those who suggested that they could do whatever they wanted with the trees, with the park have now realised that they cannot ignore the demands of the people anymore. We are looking forward to a declaration about the cancellation of the development (Topçu Kışlası) project and the deposal of those responsible for it. The use of tear gas and other human health hazards should be banned immediately and those in custody should be released. This is the way to social peace.

Taksim Solidarity will be following up on these demands shared by millions and support the injured and those under police custody. We will be loud and clear in our demands until the wounded are well and those under custody free.