A large group of protesters took over Taksim’s main road, Istiklal street on the anniversary of Gezi Park protests on Sunday, while there were no clashes between protesters and police.
Beginning as a demonstration over the environment, with concerned Istanbulites numbering in the dozens occupying Gezi Park to prevent a reconstruction project in the areas including the park, the demonstration quickly turned into a nationwide wave of protests against the Turkish government on May 31, 2013 after police intervention to the demonstrators at the park.
Istanbul Police Department had announced earlier that all the main roads leading to Taksim in Beyoglu, Besiktas, and Sisli districts of Istanbul would be closed to access on Sunday as part of the security measures taken in the anniversary of the protests.
The crowd that gathered at the Istiklal Street attempted to march to the Gezi Park while chanting slogans, but the discussions with police to enter the Park were not successful.
As the group was not allowed to enter the park, they began a sit-in demonstration and the crowd dispersed later around 14:00 pm.
Protesters numbering around 1,000, carried flags of certain political affiliations, cloves and posters of the protestors who lost their lives during the violent protests two years ago. A big poster saying, “We are everywhere” was carried by forefront protesters.
Vice chairman of the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), Sezgin Tanrikulu, the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) secretary general Arzu Cerkezoglu, Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) chairman Alper Tas, and singer Ferhat Tunc were among the protesters.
During the sit-in demonstrations, members of Taksim Solidarity Mucella Yapici, Beyza Metin, Ali Cerkezoglu, and Gulsum Elvan, mother of the child victim Berkin Elvan gave small speeches in the honor of the day.
Yapici said, “You may not let us enter Gezi today, but the time will come for a payback.”
Another group that gathered in Besiktas district of Istanbul also held a brief rally.
Certain groups also held rallies at several different provinces throughout the country, but they all remained uneventful.
Although the Gezi protests had lasted for 19 days after it began, protests had taken place on and off until September 5 last year.
During the protests which saw wave of violence following the participation of extreme and illegal groups, five protesters and a police officer lost their lives in the clashes between protesters and the police.
Gezi Park protests have costed 139 million Turkish liras (53 million US dollars) to Turkey’s economy in damages.