Twenty-six people have stood trial in Turkey on charges of organizing the demonstrations against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that have swept across the country.
The defendants appeared before a court in Ankara on Friday. As they were arriving at the court, a group of people held a demonstration to demand the release of all political detainees.
The defendants have vowed to continue their struggle.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Turkish authorities plan to charge more people.
Lawyers and local media said on Thursday that 18 more people would be charged with involvement in the anti-government protests.
The 18 were among the 90 members of the small leftist group, the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), who were arrested over the demonstrations that have infuriated Erdogan and sullied Turkey™s image in the international arena.
The NTV network reported that they will face charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “damaging public property” and will face several years in prison if found guilty.
Turkey™s Contemporary Lawyers Association (CHD) said the group is one of several that have been active in the anti-government protests, and the 90 ESP members were detained in a police raid on Tuesday.
Many countries and international organizations have expressed concern about the way the Turkish police have dealt with the anti-government protests.
On June 18, Cem Oezdemir, the co-chair of Germany’s opposition Green Party, who is of Turkish origin, also criticized Erdogan over his handling of the unrest.
œErdogan will no longer be able to travel the world presenting himself as a reformer and a modernizer,” he said in an interview published in the German newspaper Die Welt. œHe won’t be able to shake off the images of brutal violence.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also expressed concern over the clashes between Turkish police and demonstrators and said officials and security forces responsible for the use of excessive force should be punished.
œIt is important that the authorities recognize that the initial extremely heavy-handed response to the protests, which resulted in many injuries, is still a major part of the problem,” Pillay said in a statement issued on June 18.
The unrest began on May 31 after police broke up a sit-in held at Istanbul’s Taksim Square to protest against the proposal to demolish Gezi Park.
The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul’s last green public spaces.
Five people, including a police officer, have died in the clashes and more than 5,000 protesters and 600 police officers have been injured.