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UPDATE: Solidarity with protesters in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul

Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul

Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul

The Los Angeles Times reports, “A weekend of protest in Turkey has left the country reeling, with thousands of dissidents taking to the streets after a brutal police crackdown, presenting the government with the most cohesive challenge in its more than a decade in power. …The demonstrations began as a reaction to government plans to bulldoze Taksim Gezi Park, one of central Istanbul’s last major green areas, and replace it with a shopping mall and a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks. By Saturday, the protests had spread to cities around the country and had blossomed into a broad repudiation of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seen as an increasingly authoritarian figure…”

The newspaper quotes one protester who stood beneath a sycamore tree as saying, “Demolishing our park was just the trigger. The government needs to understand that it can’t just decide everything alone. In a democracy, governments represent the people, they don’t just get to do whatever they want.”

CBC adds, “About 10,000 people crowded into Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Sunday to denounce Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a ‘sultan’ and a ‘dictator’ and to call for his resignation. …The original protest was dubbed #OccupyGezi on social media, but it has expanded beyond the issue of one park. The larger protests, compared in the media to last year’s Arab Spring, target Erdogan and what the demonstrators say are his increasingly austere policies on everything from alcohol to public displays of affection. Erdogan has been in office 10 years and his government recently passed strict rules on the sale and advertising of alcohol. His public support for rebels fighting the Assad regime in Syria has also been criticized for putting Turks at risk.”

The Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project expresses its solidarity with our allies (those who challenged the World Water Forum in Istanbul in 2009, those who continue to oppose the Ilisu dam) and all the Turkish people engaged in this struggle.

For ongoing updates, see the Facebook page Occupy Gezi.