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Gezi Park protesters vote to stay put

15 June 2013

Gezi Park demonstrators have voted to continue to occupy the park.

In a statement they said that, “this is just the beginning, the struggle continues.”

Feelings against the prime minister’s authoritarian approach to government have clearly not been appeased since the prime minister said that the government would await the outcome of an appeal to build on the the park. A judge recently said that any building was currently forbidden.

Mr Erdogan said that if the government won its appeal to use the park as a building site, it would put a referendum to the Istanbul public as to whether the Ottoman military barracks should be re-created on the site.

The prime minister has continued to insist that the park be cleared of protesters and said that the government’s patience was at an end.

Police cleared neighbouring Taksim square of protesters four days ago, using tear gas and water cannon. However, because of the concentration of people in Gezi, where hundreds of protesters are encamped amid news television crews, a police incursion into the area could present a risk – both in terms of human injury and damage to Turkey’s dented image.

This weekend sees an orchestration of two pro-government rallies in Ankara and Istanbul as Erdogan intends to show that the protestors are in the minority.

The prime minister alternately calling demonstrators vandals and then misguided but sincere youth has called on the conspiracy theory, claiming that darker forces are behind the protests, with innocent youth used as a front.

“Our weekend rallies are not alternative rallies to Taksim,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech to parliament on Friday. “We are going to the rallies to show that the real Turkey is here, not a bunch of vandals in Taksim.”

Attempting to persuade the protesters to leave Gezi, Erdogan said previously that he would delay his plans to build on that site and that he would begin an investigation into allegations of police brutality.

In a statement issued this morning, Taksim Solidarity said that people were still being arrested for exercising their right to protest and that no serious investigation had begun into the deaths of four protesters.

So far, according to the Turkish Medical Association, almost 7,500 people have been wounded in the demonstrations.

A candle-lit memorial was made in the early hours of this morning to commemorate those who died in Turkey during the demonstrations.

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