The European Commission has expressed its concern about violent clashes between protesters and police in Gezi Park, Taksim Square in Istanbul.
The protest, which began with peaceful occupation of the park, entered its fourth day, over plans to demolish the park and build a shopping mall. The park is one of the few remaining green spaces in the city.
“I am worried about the recent events on Taksim square, with international human rights organizations reporting excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators,” said Ria Oomen-Ruijten, European Parliament Rapporteur on Turkey.
“We condemn all excessive and disproportionate use of force,” the European Commission said in a statement.
“We recall the importance of guaranteeing fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Any limitations should be strictly within the limits as defined by the ECHR and the jurisprudence of the ECtHR,” the statement reads.
Recalling that in its resolutions on Turkey, the European Parliament has previously expressed its concern on the excessive use of force by police officers during demonstrations, she said this year’s resolution highlighted the crucial importance of continuing the reform process in order to safeguard freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, including protests, and freedom of association in line with the values of the EU.
Protesters occupying the park in central Istanbul were besieged once more by tear gas and water cannon attacks by Turkish police on Friday as police violence escalated. Scores of protesters and tourists were wounded.