At the end of her mandate, Rebecca Harms, expert on Turkey and Green Member of the European Parliament, will travel to Silivri to observe the Gezi protests trial in court.
Due to her cooperation with two of the defendants, Osman Kavala and Can Atalay, she sees a special responsibility. The Greens have been closely cooperating with Osman Kavala for many years. Harms has also worked with Can Atalay, a lawyer and advisor to many environmental groups. The experience with the defendants shows her, that the accusations against the defendants in the Gezi protests trial, just like Osman Kavalla’s long imprisonment, are politically motivated and intended to intimidate Turkish civil society.
Harms will be in Silivri and Istanbul from 24 to 26 June in cooperation with an international group of observers.
In the early morning of May 28, 2013, a group of activists gathered for a sit-in protest at Gezi Park in central Istanbul. The green space, a rarity in the city, is located right next to Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square. The protesters were angry at government plans to cut down trees to create space for a new shopping mall. The activists erected tents and launched their own version of the Occupy movement – reminiscent of the global anti-Wall-Street-protests.
A raid by the riot police attracted heavy media attention. The police set the tents on fire, triggering Turkey’s largest anti-government demonstrations. More than 8,000 people were injured and 11 killed.
Contrary to expectations, the protest movement never turned into a political movement.
By Hafsa Erdogdu