Taksim Square Protests | Istanbul, Turkey | by Ilker Gurer
Taksim Gezi Park is an urban park next to Taksim Square, in Istanbul's Beyoglu district. It is one of the last green spaces in Beyoglu and one of the smallest parks of Istanbul. In May 2013, plans to replace the park with a reconstruction of the former Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940) intended to house a shopping mall sparked nationwide protests. Beginning on May 28, 2013, protests rose against the plans of replacing Taksim Gezi Park with a shopping mall and possible residences. The protests developed into riots when a group occupying the park was attacked by police with no mercy. The subjects of the protests have since broadened beyond the development of Taksim Gezi Park, covering issues such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, as well as more broadly defending the secularism of Turkey. The protests also spread to other cities in Turkey, and protests were seen in other countries with significant Turkish communities.
On May 31, 2013, police suppressed the protesters with tear gas, pressurized water, and both rubber and real bullets. They arrested hundreds of people and injured thousands. The police action received wide attention online. Protesters organized and gathered on Istiklal Avenue, reaching thousands on the night of May 31st.
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