Gezi Park protesters win a concession, but Erdogan insists they must still leave

Court will decide on future of project that was catalyst for unrest across Turkey

Istanbul

Video: Time lapse footage from Gezi Park

Protesters fighting to save an Istanbul Park from redevelopment claimed a small victory today after the Turkish government agreed to suspend controversial plans for the area until a court has ruled on the legality of the project. 

The concession on the fate of Gezi Park was seen as an attempt by the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to address the central demand of protesters and bring an end to a wave of demonstrations that have rocked Turkey in the past two weeks. 

However the temporary reprieve did little to ease fears among those camped in the park, as Mr Erdogan again called on them to leave, saying they had “stayed long enough”.

“You have stayed here as long as you could and have relayed your message. If your message is about Gezi Park, it has been received and evaluated,” Mr Erdogan said. “Please now leave Gezi Park and go to your homes.”

A crackdown by police on what was initially a small demonstration against plans to build a shopping centre where the park now stands has sparked large-scale protests across Turkey. 

Five people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters, drawing condemnation from the international community, including the European Parliament. On Tuesday, police twice tried to clear nearby Taksim Square by firing volleys of tear gas into the crowd. Protesters responded by launching fireworks towards police, and violence continued into the early hours of the morning. 

Members of Taksim Solidarity, the umbrella group of organisations representing protesters camped in Gezi Park, met with Mr Erdogan in Ankara on Thursday evening in a bid to find a solution to the stand-off, which has shown little sign of abating.

Taksim Solidarity said Mr Erdogan had promised to abide by the outcome of a court case filed in an effort to stop the redevelopment and would hold a referendum on the plans if the court found in the government’s favour.

Tayfun Kahraman, a member of the protest group, told reporters following the meeting: “The prime minister said that if the results of the public vote turned out in a way which would leave this area as a park, they will abide by it.

“His comments that the project will not be executed until the judiciary makes its decision is tonight’s positive result.”

Protester numbers have been buoyed by those angry at the police crackdown. Mr Erdogan’s opponents have also grown increasingly angry about what they see as the erosion of secular Turkish values under his Islamic-rooted party’s government, and over his authoritarian leadership style. Turkey recently passed new restrictions on alcohol and attempted to limit women’s access to abortion.

In Gezi Park yesterday afternoon, protesters showed little sign of wanting to take down their tents.

 Ali Can, a protester and resident of the park for the past week, pointed out: “[Mr Erdogan] did not agree to release those who have been arrested during protests. He did not agree to allow us use public squares for democratic meetings and he again told us to leave.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable