Police detain 51 in protests sparked by Gezi Park trial verdict

Police on Tuesday detained 51 people who had gathered in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district to protest a verdict sentencing businessman and rights defender Osman Kavala to life in prison and seven others to 18 years each on charges of instigating the anti-government Gezi Park protests, Turkish Minute reported.

The verdict sparked nationwide protests in Turkey.bHundreds gathered in Beyoğlu and chanted pro-Gezi slogans.

They dispersed after a press release was read out to the crowd. Many of them were detained by the police in other parts of Beyoğlu.

A journalist was also among those detained.

After the press statement, protestors who wanted to march toward İstiklal Street were stopped by the police.

“We will continue to fight until this injustice, this unfairness, this hostility ends, until our friends are released, until they are acquitted in these cases, which will leave a black stain in the history books. We will not leave our friends alone,” the protesters said in the press statement.

The statement said that trust in the country’s rule of law had decreased and that “Turkey has become a country where architects, city planners and lawyers who object to the plunder of nature are sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment.”

The Gezi Park demonstrations, which took place in the summer of 2013 in reaction to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s attempt to destroy one of the few green spaces left in İstanbul, quickly turned into a nationwide protest against the authoritarian policies of then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Eleven protestors died and thousands more were injured as they were brutally suppressed by the police on Erdoğan’s instructions.

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