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May 31, 2013

Turkish Environmental Activists Protest Park's Demolition, Are Attacked By Police

Turkish protest
Photo of a protester and police at Taksim Square from http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com/

Shocking photos and video continue to roll in from the heart of Istanbul, Turkey's Taksim Square. In the third day of protests against the government's plan to replace the square's Gezi Park with a shopping center, violence has again erupted. Today the police again attacked the protesters with tear gas and trashed or burnt the tents of nearly 1,000 people that slept there overnight.

"The attack seems to have backfired, triggering more participation in the demonstrations during the day," said Pinar Aksogan of Greenpeace in Turkey. "Gezi Park is a symbol of the resistance against the latest anti-environment currents occurring in the Turkish government. The government is completely disregarding the public's demands, freedom of speech, and the environment in all its projects and investments. The environmentalists condemn the massacre of trees in Gezi Park and the violent action undertaken against the activists who are camping to protect this area."

Here is some footage from Greenpeace in Turkey. You can see photos here.

Pinar says protests have grown larger, and so police are now responding with more tear gas and water cannons. Many have been injured, some seriously. She added that the Turkish government is also pushing a new law that will allow the zoning of any forest as a construction zone.

"The laws that ease the massacre of the environment and the violence taking place against those who would protest these crimes against nature are both illegal under the Turkish Constitution's 56th Amendment, which states the environment must be protected," says Pinar.
Turkish protest2
Photo of protesters and police at Taksim Square from http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com/

It's important to note that Turkey is also home to the world's fourth largest coal pipeline. Protests against this massive coal expansion were met with similar violence in the Black sea town of Gerze in April of last year.

From Gerze to Gezi, Greenpeace is calling for international solidarity against this environmental destruction and the violence against the activists protesting it. Offer your support today with a tweet: I stand in solidarity with environmental activists in #Turkey #occupygezi #DirenGeziParki

-- Justin Guay, Sierra Club International


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