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Taksim Square, threatened by property developers, occupied by Turkish protesters

Report of 2 Jun 2013 is republished from PressTV. Like Melbourne's Royal Park, Taksim Square is one of Istanbul's few remaining public spaces. It is also threatened with destruction to suit the selfish needs of developers who wish to erect high-rise residential towers. See also: OccupyGezi! OWS activists stage pro-Turkish rally in New York of 1 June in Russia Today, OWS activists in US rally in solidarity with Turkish protesters of 1 June in PressTV.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have reoccupied Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square despite heavy-handed police crackdown.

Thousands of people returned to Taksim Square on Sunday following two days of violent demonstrations that saw almost 1,000 people arrested.

They chanted anti-government slogans and called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign.

"We will stay until the end. We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us," one protester, Akin, told Reuters.

There have been no reports of clashes between protesters and security forces.

Istanbul has been the scene of anti-government protests since Friday after security forces attacked a peaceful four-day sit-in by environmental activists against the demolition of Gezi Park at Taksim Square.

The tough police response to park protesters has sparked mass anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul and nearly 50 other cities, including the capital Ankara, Izmir, Mugla and Antalya. The protesters condemned the Turkish government as a "fascist government" and called Erdogan a new "Sultan."

Amnesty International has described the police use of excessive force against the demonstrators as disgraceful.

The group noted that at least two people have been killed and more than a thousand others injured in Istanbul alone. It also said some protesters have been left blinded by the massive quantities of tear gas used by the police.

Turkish prime minister on Saturday admitted that "there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response."

Protesters had occupied Gezi Park since May 28 to prevent bulldozers from uprooting the trees and demolishing the park in order to replace it with a shopping mall.

The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and protests as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city's last public green space.

Comments

In 1854 in Melbourne's infancy, 680 acres were set aside near the Melbourne Zoo as park land for the growing city. Since then it has been a story of attrition. By 1860 the area had been reduced to 550 acres in total i.e. including the zoo. By 1882 the area had diminished to 479 acres and by 1916 it was down to 425 acres. The Royal Children's Hospital has since been built on the site as well as the State Netball and Hockey Centre . In 2001 the Victorian State government gave away to developers another 20ha (or about 50 acres) for the construction of the 2006 Commonwealth Games Village to be sold off after the 10 day sporting event. About 2000 mature trees, home to 80 bird species were felled. This did not happen without an enormous fight by local activists. See the website of the Royal Park Protection Group for the history of the fight to preserve Royal Park for the people of Melbourne.http://www.royalparkprotect.org.au/
and to put the Commonwealth Games Village property development in context see the 2 films made in 2005 at http://www.royalparkprotect.org.au/Images/Images.htm
Public open space in Istanbul is incredibly precious with a population of over 13 million people and the issue is very obvious, but Melbourne is projected to hold 8 million by the middle of the century and the population will continue to grow after that. The mid century population could be even higher depending on government decisions with respect to immigration. It is such an insult that now a road is proposed to go through the park to cope with traffic congestion from population growth which is forced on us. The battle against the East West Link is being waged , as it should be because as we all know, in conservation, every battle lost is forever but every victory is temporary. Your comfort and amenity cannot be taken for granted; it is being stolen as you sit at your screen.

A friend has reported to me that she saw a large crowd in Melbourne's Swanston Street near the town hall on Sunday afternoon about 3.00pm . She said about 400 people people were protesting against the Turkish government and in sympathy with the protesters in Istanbul defending Taksim Square. This was the focus but from talking to those taking part who said they were mainly from the Turkish community she tells me that it was a moderate well behaved protest about democracy in Turkey. My friend had no knowledge of the rally before coming across the protesters. She saw no media cameras and there have been no reports in the mainstream TV news.