Donations Pour in for Protesters Camped out in Istanbul Park

Created: 2013-06-06 07:14 EST

Category: World > Europe
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Hundreds of people turned up in Taksim Square carrying bags of food donations to support the protesters occupying Gezi Park on Wednesday (June 5).

On Taksim Square, thousands remained at a camp that is taking on the look of a more enduring settlement. Small tents have appeared, food is constantly given out and face masks against tear gas are on sale.

Charity organisations and volunteers used police barriers to erect makeshift ration stations where they hand-out free food, drinks and even camping equipment to anyone passing by.

On Wednesday a steady stream of donors made their way to Taksim Square, handing in bags filled with everything from water, food, medicines, sleeping mats and toiletries.

Once the food has been accepted, it's then organised and taken out by volunteers of all ages to be handed out freely around the park.

One donor, Demet said she used her lunch break at work to go to the park and donate food for the protesters.

[Demet, Istanbul Resident]:
"People who are here they are trying to protect their right, their basic rights about the environment you know, and about their daily rights and their lifestyle and we are just trying to support them by bringing some food, some drinks you know. And I think this is a really nice thing that people get together and they are supporting each other. It's very, you know. It's very nice actually."

The unrest was triggered by protests against government plans to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks to house shops or apartments in Taksim, long a venue for political demonstrations.

But it has widened into a broader show of defiance against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Ilker, a volunteer, says once the coffee shop had closed down because of the riots, some of the employees and medical students set up the station to help protesters.

[Ilker, Volunteer]:
"We are here for human rights and we don't want people to profit from that. So we are asking of people's help and helping people again for free. And other thing. Police using violent force and there are no doctors in the area and as you see there is no ambulance. So we have medical situations going on in the frontline to helping people and brining people here."

The protests in Taksim have included a broad spectrum of people opposed to Erdogan, some accusing him of an Islamist agenda which seeks to erode the secular foundations of the republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 90 years ago, others opposed more broadly to what they say is his autocratic style.

Two people have been killed and more than 3,000 injured in the six days of protests, dealing a blow to the prime minister's image at home and abroad.