NEWS

Dozens gather in Vancouver to support Turkish protesters

06/15/2013 06:27 EDT | Updated 08/15/2013 05:12 EDT
Dozens gathered at a Vancouver park to show their support for protesters in Turkey who were driven out of an Istanbul square on Saturday after riot police fired water cannons and tear gas on the crowds.

Supporters in Grandview Park sang songs, waved the red and white Turkish flag and decorated a banner that read: "Vancouver Supports you, Gezi!"

- Turkish riot police clear Istanbul park

- Learn more about the protests in Turkey

The gathering was organized by local people of Turkish descent who say the issues at hand in Turkey are similar to those facing the city of Vancouver.

Trees are at the heart of Turkey's recent upheaval, specifically the government's plan to raze Gezi Park in central Istanbul and build army barracks and shopping area in its place.

Organizer Gizem Kaya says she has friends in Turkey who are participating in the protests.

"Friends I know that are protesting there have never been politically active before, let alone protesting," she said. "Even though this government was chosen by the people, I don't think people feel like their voices are being heard."

Onur Bakiner, who also helped organize the gathering, said protesters in Turkey are simply trying to protect green space in their city.

"Gezi Park is one of the remaining urban parks in downtown Istanbul," he said. "So once it's demolished, you will just see miles and miles of ashphalt."

Biggest anti-government protests in decades

For more than two weeks, protesters in Turkey have occupied Istanbul's Taksim Square and neighbouring Gezi Park, defying Turkish Prime Minister Recep TayyipBull Erdogan's warnings that they leave.

On Saturday, white-helmeted riot police emptied the park within a half an hour, leaving a series of colorful, abandoned tents behind.

Bulldozers moved in afterward, scooping up debris as crews of workmen in hard hats and fluorescent yellow vests tore down the tents.

Five people have been killed since the protests began, while thousands have been reported arrested and hurt.

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