European Socialists & Democrats outraged at police violence in Istanbul

Plans by the Turkish government to destroy a park near Istanbul’s famous Taksim square – to build a shopping mall in this historically sensitive area which is symbolic of the evolution of a secular Turkey – have provoked mass protests across Turkey over recent days. Police responded violently to protests and it is reported that over a thousand demonstrators have been arrested and two demonstrators died in the violence.

Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, commented on the protests: „The Turkish government must work for peace and social justice instead of igniting new conflicts through politically motivated projects and it cannot continue to allow this severe police violence. We express our full solidarity with the demonstrators, many of whom are being deliberately attacked by the police with tear gas.

„Prime minister Erdogan and his government failed to include the civil society in discussions about this project, which led to an overwhelmingly negative response from citizens. His aggressive rhetoric in response to the protests is a clear sign that he does not understand the will of his people. Mr Erdogan, instead of escalating the mass uprising through his divisive speeches, should immediately end violence against innocent civilians and show his willingness to listen.

„If Turkey is to continue its journey towards EU accession, the Turkish government must learn to include both the opposition and civil society in important projects to forge national unity. Unfortunately, the current behaviour of Mr Erdogan shows that neither he nor the AKP under his leadership are willing to continue the necessary democratisation.“