Turkey reopens Istanbul Park at heart of anti-Erdogan protests
Iran Press TV
Mon Jul 8, 2013 2:41PM GMT
Turkish authorities have reopened Istanbul’s Gezi Park, which has been at the heart of weeks of anti-government protests.
Istanbul's governor announced the reopening of Gezi Park on Monday but warned he would not allow it to become a point for more demonstrations or occupation.
The park is no place "for forums, occupation or marches." Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said.
However, protest leaders have called a rally at the park in defiance of the governor to hold a "forum" or discussions on Turkey's future.
Gezi Park, at Istanbul's landmark Taksim Square, had been cordoned off since June 15, when police routed thousands of environmentalists who occupied it in protest against a redevelopment plan which involved the demolition of the Park.
The Turkish protesters said Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul’s last public green spaces.
The protests soon spread to other cities across the country and turned into calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had strongly backed the project.
Erdogan opponents say he has become increasingly authoritarian since coming to power a decade ago.
Several people have been killed in the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, who Erdogan has described as foreign-backed extremists and terrorists.
On June 24, Erdogan praised the “legendary heroism” of police forces in quelling anti-government protests.
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