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article imageTurkish protesters list demands Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Jun 6, 2013 in World
Ankara - A week after protests erupted all over Turkey in reaction to Prime Minster Erdogan's restrictive policies, protesters unite and deliver their demands.
Last week, as one of the last green spots in central Istanbul was threatened with bulldozers, protesters took to the streets. At first, they yelled, "Save Gezi Park!" As protests spread to dozens of cities throughout Turkey, their chants became, "Erdogan must resign!"
The protesters came from all ages, backgrounds, and occupations. Over a dozen labor unions have joined them as even government workers staged strikes and wore black. Rival sports fans have marched together, swapping colors. Television celebrities and famous musicians have joined in, Turkish Airline workers have paraded in banned lipstick and blonde hair, and even the CEO of Garanti Bank, Ergun Özen, proudly declared,
"I am a marauder also."
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan called the protesters "a handful of marauders" last week. He has also accused them of being "hand-in-hand with terrorists."
Erdogan has been in Algeria for the past few days, where he ironically received an honorary Doctorate Degree for his "contributions to humanity." This happens while, back in Turkey, police are rounding up protesters and Twitter users for exercising Free Speech—and putting them in prison for criticizing Erdogan. Police also continue to use tear gas against protesters, and a mob from Erdogan's hometown of Rize attacked a small group of protesters after Erdogan had threatened to unleash his loyal Ak Party followers. One young Rize woman was injured. In the past week, over 2000 people have been injured and three have died.
But at least someone in the Turkish government is listening to protesters. On June 5, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç hosted members of the Taksim Platform, who had objected to the Taksim Square Project from the beginning.
The group conveyed their demands to Arınç:
1. Gezi Park should remain a park with no construction within (this decision should be officially announced), and the Atatürk Culture Center should not be demolished
2. Law enforcement officers and bureaucrats who led to rising violence that resulted in the killings of three citizens and wounding of thousands should be investigated and removed from office (in particular the governors and police chiefs of Istanbul, Ankara and Hatay), and use of tear gas and similar materials should be banned
3. All protesters in custody should be immediately and unconditionally released; it should be announced that none of those protesters will be prosecuted
4. All de facto obstacles and bans against use of the freedom of assembly in all squares and public zones of Turkey—particularly Taksim Square and Kızılay Square, which are the venue for May 1 gatherings—as well as barriers to freedom of expression should be removed
The government has been “attacking the people’s ecological values,” the platform said.
"People in Turkey love nature and animals, and Erdogan does not," a Turkish teacher explained. She showed me a small tattoo on her hand, between her thumb and forefinger. It was a circle with 12 sides that represent the 12 holy men that the Alevi Muslims follow (Erdogan is part of the Sunni majority and has suppressed the Alevi minority).
"We have had no freedom in Turkey. Erdogan has punished us for speaking out. He refuses to allow the building of places of worship for Alevis—as he refuses the Christians. There is Islam, and there is democracy, but there is no Islamic Democracy. Ataturk led us into being a modern secular democracy, and we cannot go back to the time of sultans."
A Turkish business owner holds up Ataturk s portrait in Istanbul
A Turkish business owner holds up Ataturk's portrait in Istanbul
Antoni George Sadik
More about Turkey, occupy gezi park, Taksim, Istanbul, Protests
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