06/25/2019, 00.00
TURKEY
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Gezi Park protest trail opens. Prosecution charges they aimed to "overthrow the government"

by Marian Demir

​The 16 firgures from civil society - intellectuals, actors, directors, philanthropists - accued of wnating to "foment an organized insurrection" thanks to "manipulation organized from abroad". Erdogan claims tehy are led by Soros. European Parliament observers present at the trial.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - As of yesterday, 16 members of Turkish civil society are on trial, accused of wanting to "overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey" because they are the organizers of the "Gezi Park movement", the series of demonstrations begun in 2013 in the famous Istanbul park and then spread throughout the country.

The trial is held in the court of the Silivri high security prison on the outskirts of Istanbul. Among the accused are the philanthropist Osman Kavala; Yigit Aksakoglu, representative of a Dutch foundation in Turkey; the lawyer Can Atalay, the architect Mucella Yapici; urban planner Tayfun Kahraman; Ali Hakan Altınay, of the Anadolu Kültür Inc foundation, director Cigdem Mater, Journalist Can Dündar and actors Mehmet Ali Alabora and Ayse Pinar Alabora, who took refuge in Europe, and are being tried in absentia. The public prosecutor's request is for a life sentence for all 16.

Together with friends and family members of the accused, opposition deputies, human rights activists, representatives of the European parliament, in particular from Holland, Sweden, France, Norway and Germany are also present at the trial.

The "Gezi Park" movement arose with some protests that began at the end of May 2013 in Taksim Square (see photo), against a building project that involved the felling of trees at Gezi Park, one of the few green areas in Istanbul. The demonstrations slowly swelled in numbers, up to 3 and a half million people, channeling a strong criticism of the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then prime minister), accusing him of authoritarianism and of wanting to Islamize the secular State.

The demonstrations ended after a few weeks, due to police violence, which killed 9 people and injured thousands.

The Gezi Park movement represents the first great expression of criticism of Erdogan's authoritarianism. For the Turkish leader, it was organized with the help of organizations and subsidies from abroad, in particular the US billionaire of Hungarian origin George Soros.

The accusation against the 16 defendants follows those of Erdogan: they "fomented an organized insurrection" thanks to "manipulation organized from abroad".

Today, in his defense, Can Atalay said: "Gezi is against imperialism. It cannot be explained with any foreign tricks or conspiracies...Gezi is the will and determination of the people to take their fates into their own hands. Gezi is the possibility that Turkey can arise from the darkness of the Middle East. Gezi is this country's hope for equality, freedom and justice."

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