Police staged a dawn raid on demonstrators who had been camping for days in Gezi Park in anger at plans to build a shopping mall, and clouds of tear gas rose around the area in Taksim Square that has long been a venue for political protest. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/05/31/world/europe/31reuters-turkey-protests.html?ref=world
Amnesty International said it was concerned by what it described as “the use of excessive force” by the police against what had started out as a peaceful protest.
Hundreds of military officers have been jailed on charges of plotting a coup against Erdogan in recent years; others including academics, journalists and politicians face trial on similar accusations.
“These people will not bow down to you” read one banner at the Gezi Park protest, alongside a cartoon of Erdogan wearing an Ottoman emperor’s turban.
Postings on social media including Twitter, where “Occupy Gezi” – a reference to protests in New York and London last year – was a top-trending hashtag, and Facebook said similar demonstrations were planned for the next few days in other Turkish cities including Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Bursa.
“Kiss protests” – in which demonstrators are urged to lock lips – had already been planned for Istanbul and Ankara this weekend after subway officials were reported to have admonished a couple for kissing in public a week ago.
Architects, leftist political parties, academics, city planners and others have long opposed the plans, saying they lacked consultation with civic groups and would remove one of central Istanbul’s few green spaces.