ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Istanbul’s governor warned Saturday that a planned gathering by protesters at the city’s landmark Taksim Square is illegal and that police would disperse participants.
Gov. Huseying Avni Mutlu’s warning came hours before protesters were expected to converge on the square, intending to forcibly enter the nearby Gezi Park whose redevelopment plans sparked anger and morphed into nationwide anti-government protests in June.
Gezi Park has been cordoned off since June 15, when police routed environmentalists who occupied it amid the widespread protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. His opponents say he has become increasingly authoritarian since coming to power a decade ago.
The protests have now dwindled although thousands of demonstrators have been gathering at Taksim every Saturday for the past three weeks, demanding justice for a protester who was killed by police fire.
Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of organizations representing protesters, called for Saturday’s rally at the square to serve notice to authorities of a court decision that has annulled the redevelopment plans and then attempt to break through the police cordon.
An Istanbul court in June rule against plans that included building a replica Ottoman-era barracks at Gezi. The court’s decision however, is not final and is expected to be appealed at a higher administrative court.
Mutlu has said the protest is unauthorized and warned that police would intervene. He also said authorities planned to reopen the park on Sunday or Monday.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.