20 detained as police attack commemoration for Ethem Sarısülük

The Turkish police have attacked a memorial event in Ankara for Ethem Sarısülük who was shot dead by a policeman during the Gezi protests in summer 2013. Almost 20 people were arrested.

A memorial event organised by democratic mass organisations in Ankara for Ethem Sarısülük, who was killed by the police during the Gezi protests of 2013 by a shot in the head, could not take place as planned.

Participants were surrounded and attacked by the police on their way to the Güvenpark in the central Kızılay area. Almost twenty people are said to have been arrested, some of them having been subject to massive violence. The police justified their action by citing the Coronavirus emergency restrictions.

Ethem Sarısülük was one of eight civilians who died during the Gezi protests.

The uprising began on May 27, 2013, when the authorities in Istanbul took action to cut down trees in the central Gezi Park at Taksim Square for a planned construction project. Members of various associations, professional organisations and initiatives stood in front of the construction machines and prevented the deforestation. attempts, among them the then HDP MP Sirri Süreyya Önder.

Local protests gave rise to a resistance movement against the authoritarian policies of the then Prime Minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which spread to all provinces except Bingöl and Bayburt. At first with tear gas and water cannons, the police proceeded more and more harshly against the demonstrators. According to a report by several human rights groups, three security forces also died during the protests. Over 8,000 people were injured, 43 of them seriously.

President Erdoğan described the demonstrators as looters and accused them of wanting to overthrow the government. Sixteen intellectuals, journalists, actors and human rights activists were charged with attempted overthrow, including the patron of culture Osman Kavala.

In April, all the accused in the ‘Gezi trial’ were acquitted. Only a few hours after his acquittal, a new arrest warrant was issued for Kavala, this time on espionage charges. Three of the judges at the court in Silivri, who acquitted all the defendants in the Gezi trial, are also being investigated now.