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15 people sentenced to a total of 94 years for taking part in Gezi protests

In this file photo, people demonstrate on May 31, 2018 in Istanbul, to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the Gezi Park protests. The Gezi Park protests which began in May 2013, were sparked by the heavy-handed eviction of demonstrators staging a sit-in protest against the redevelopment of the area and grew into often violent clashes with police as people demonstrated against much broader issues concerning perceived infringements of civil rights. OZAN KOSE / AFP

The Erzincan 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced 15 people to a total of 93 years, 10 months in prison for taking part in the Gezi protests of 2013, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Bianet news website.

The defendants were accused of “violating the law on meetings and demonstrations” and “resisting the police and preventing them from doing their job.” The individual prison sentences ranged from two years, six months to six years, eight months.

The protests in 2013 erupted over then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government’s plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. The protests spread to other cities across the country and quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to the use of disproportionate force by the police.

More than 8,000 people were injured during the protests. Since then, the police in the area have remained vigilant, and anti-government demonstrations in Taksim Square are prohibited. Even smaller peaceful marches are quickly disbanded.

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