Police break up protest, detain 30 commemorating slain Gezi activist in Ankara

Turkish police on Thursday dispersed a demonstration by a group commemorating an activist who was killed during the nationwide anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013, detaining 30 protesters, the Evrensel daily reported

The group gathered near a park in central Ankara where 26-year-old Ethem Sarısülük was injured by a gunshot to the head on June 1, 2013. He died in a hospital 14 days later. 

Speaking during a press conference at the Human Rights Association (İHD) Ankara branch, Sayfi Sarısülük, Ethem’s mother, said they would continue commemorating her son in Ankara despite the police intervention at these events. 

Police on Wednesday detained 59 people who took part in a demonstration held in central İstanbul by a group marking the 10th anniversary of the anti- Gezi Park protests and honoring the activists killed in the 2013 events.

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.

Sarısülük was among a dozen protesters who were killed. Thousands of others were injured.

Erdoğan described the protests as a “coup” attempt against his government.

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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