Gezi protests are exercise for reconciliation between people: BDP’s activist deputy Önder


ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency – 15.7.2013 – The Gezi Park protests have been an exercise for the reconciliation between the people in Turkish society, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said, categorically rejecting claims that the wave of demonstrations was disrupting the Kurdish peace process.

“Some are trying to oppose the Gezi process and the peace process as though they were incompatible, when in fact it’s not at all like this. This was exactly one of the most important exercises to ensure reconciliation among people in [public spaces],” Önder said. The BDP’s colorful lawmaker had been one of the deputies most involved with the protests, having personally stopped bulldozers from cutting down trees during the initial demos in Gezi Park, before they spread across the country. Önder, who is also a moviemaker and social activist, had also been injured when police fired tear gas and water cannons while he was making a statement to denounce the violent dawn raids to evacuate the campers at the park.

While acknowledging that there had been “some racist and fascist provocation during the Gezi events,” Önder said the responsibility to silence these voices lay on the protesters themselves. “Besides [this incidents], we have seen many events where we witnessed that [different] people could struggle together and understand each other’s problems.”

Önder slammed the government’s position, saying it had “taken hostage” democratic rights. “What is objected to is this centralized ‘I know everything,’ ‘I can do anything that I want, how I want’ mentality,” he said.

The party’s Istanbul province head Asiye Koçak warned about the confrontation between shop owners in the Taksim area and protesters. “We don’t think that the shop owners have something against the Gezi resisters. Some want a confrontation between shop owners and the people,” she said. Gezi protests are ongoing in many cities and Istanbul’s Taksim area has witnessed a police crackdown during almost every demonstration. Gezi Park was opened on July 8 after being blocked off by the police for over three weeks.