İstanbul police detain 59 at event marking 10th anniversary of Gezi protests

2013 Gezi Park demonstrations

Police intervention in a demonstration held in central İstanbul by a group wanting to mark the tenth anniversary of the anti-government Gezi Park protests and commemorate the activists killed in the 2013 events has resulted in the detention of 59 people, the Birgün daily reported, citing an official announcement from the İstanbul Governor’s Office.

Millions of people across Turkey took to the streets to denounce President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian leadership in May and June 2013. The protests were sparked by opposition to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. They quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the AKP, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to the use of disproportionate force by the police.

A group of protesters, who on Wednesday had gathered in Beyoğlu at 7 p.m. for a march to Gezi Park, saw police barricades blocking the entrance to the park. 

According to the statement released by the governor’s office on Tuesday, 59 people were detained at the event marking the 10th anniversary of the 2013 protests.

Lawyers were not allowed by the police to visit the detainees, according to a social media message by the Lawyer Solidarity platform. 

An İstanbul court in April 2022 sentenced businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who had been behind bars without a conviction for over four years, to aggravated life and his co-defendants to 18 years each on charges of instigating the anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013.

A Turkish appellate court in December upheld his conviction, ruling that the April verdict “complied with the law.” Turkey refuses to release Kavala despite a 2019 ECtHR ruling that found his detention was in pursuance of an “ulterior motive,” that of silencing him as a human rights defender. 

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