Mass protests shake Turkish government

From World Socialist Web Site:

By Alex Lantier
3 June 2013

Protests in cities across Turkey shook the Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday and over the weekend, amid rising discontent with his domestic policies and his support for the US-led proxy war in neighboring Syria.

The protests grew rapidly after police crackdowns on Friday morning at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and then in Taksim Square. The sit-in had begun Tuesday, as lawmakers and officials of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), subsequently joined by the bourgeois opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), protested Erdogan’s plan to remodel Gezi Park, which is adjacent to Taksim Square. The sit-in initially gathered dozens and then hundreds of people.

Erdogan plans to build a mosque in the area and to rebuild an Ottoman Empire-era barracks, destroyed in 1940, to be used as a shopping center, while destroying a nearby cultural center named after Turkish bourgeois nationalist leader Kemal Atatürk.

The remodeling plans were provocative, given Taksim Square’s historic association with working class or popular protest. The 1969 Bloody Sunday massacre of demonstrators protesting the deployment of the US Sixth Fleet to Turkey took place nearby, and dozens were killed in the square in the repression of an International Labor Day march on May 1, 1977.

On Friday, police initially cracked down on protesters, pushing them into Taksim Square, and then brutally attacked them again. As the demonstration swelled, helicopters and police squads fired intense volleys of tear gas into residential areas and into the public transit system; one video shows a police armored vehicle hitting a protester as it charged a barricade.

“Police are everywhere, and helicopters are monitoring our movements. Whenever police see us march, they come and gas us… We were gassed, we dispersed, and then gathered again,” one protester said.

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