Over 1,000 Gezi protestors sign petition calling for acquittal of defendants in trial

A total of 1,376 participants in the 2013 Gezi Park protest have a signed a petition calling for acquittal of defendants in the case, ahead of Tuesday’s final hearing in the case, during which an Istanbul court will deliver its verdict.

The protests signified the aspirations and the demands of Turkish society and these cannot be placed on trial, news site T24 quoted the petition as saying.

The petition arrives days before the final hearing of the Gezi Park protest trial in which 16 suspects, including activists, lawyers, journalists and actors, are facing a total of 47,520 years in prison on charges of attempting to violently overthrow the government by organising the protests.

The Gezi Park protests started as a small sit-in against the proposed destruction of one of Istanbul’s few remaining green spaces to make way for a shopping mall, but mushroomed into the biggest anti-government protests since Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. Police waded in with batons and tear-gas to break up the demonstration; eleven people were killed and more than 8,000 injured in the ensuing violence.

"I was there, too, to experience the beauty of shared protest and cooperation. I was at Gezi, too, so that nobody can interfere with what I wear, how many children I have and whether I laugh or not,’’ the petition said.

"I was there, too, so the city I live in does not turn into a concrete mass, I was at Gezi, too, because I want to live in peace. We were all there, what was expressed at Gezi were the aspirations and demands of this society and these cannot be put on trial,’’ it added. 

Meanwhile, representatives of civil society organisations have asked to former leading AKP officials to remove their names as plaintiffs in the Gezi Park trial, news site Duvar reported on Sunday.

The NGOs have formally requested former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu former deputy Prime Minister responsible for the economy, Ali Babacan, to withdraw their names in the Gezi trial, it said.

Former AKP heavyweights founded the Future Party earlier this year to rival the ruling AKP, while Babacan is expected to announce a separate political movement soon.

Around 3.6 million people took part in the Gezi protests, according to government estimates.