We are artists, students, intellectuals and citizens of New York City. Together with supporters of Occupy Wall Street, we are here in Zuccotti Park to show solidarity with our friends and brothers and sisters who are occupying Gezi Parki in Istanbul. This is a peaceful event. Our goal is to attract public attention to the protests in Istanbul Gezi Parki and the consequent police brutality of the Erdogan/AKP government!
Since Monday, May 27th, citizens of Istanbul from all backgrounds have been staging a peaceful resistance in Gezi Park, the city’s largest public park, protecting it and its trees from a large gentrification project to transform a public park into a shopping center. The demolition of the park should be understood as another incident of the government’s ongoing appropriation and privatization of public resources.
Since the peaceful occupation started three days ago, The Turkish police have repeatedly intervened, with each intervention more violent than the last. The riot police set fire to the occupier’s tents, and used tear gas relentlessly, causing serious injuries.
Finally on May 31st, the police attacks included rubber bullets, in addition to physically beating and ultimately killing of at least one protester.Today, hundreds of thousands of people in Istanbul are resisting the AKP government’s neoliberal policies and the brutal attacks on the protestors continue.
This is not the first time protests have been met with state sanctions violence. Most recently, the Turkish police used unreasonable force to disperse May Day protestors again attacking a group of peaceful demonstrators in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The Erdogan government’s excessive force and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protestors is unacceptable, it breaches international human rights criteria and must be stopped.
We are calling on the international community to support the Turkish protestors’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We demand an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of excessive and unnecessary use of force, to ensure that any law enforcement officials responsible for arbitrary or abusive use of force are prosecuted.