Turkish main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroglu made a surprise support visit late May 29 to the several hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park Hurriyetdailynews reported.
The protest had entered in its second day after locals braved an intervention of the police armed with tear gas to start a sit-in to protect one of the last green public spaces in the center of Istanbul.
Kılıçdaroglu promised that Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies would take turns every day to mount guard together with the protestors against any attempt to bring back the bulldozers. He also vowed that the park would remain in place. "The park will stay here, the mall will go," he said in reference to a project led by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality with the blessing of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to rebuild the historic artillery barracks. The project involves converting the barracks into a shopping mall and possibly a residence with social facilities.
Yet Kılıçdaroglu was not alone and support poured in to the Taksim demonstrators especially from artists. Notably, the lead actor in the Turkish film "Fetih 1453: The Conquest of Constantinople" had refused to join the May 29 Istanbul conquest anniversary celebrations and joined the festive camp.
"[To the] Istanbul mayor and governor, who invited me as guest of honor to the anniversary celebrations of Istanbul's conquest: I am not with you on this day, I will be in Gezi Park," Devrim Evin, "the conqueror," posted on his Twitter account in protest at the attempts to demolish the iconic park.
Whatever protesters do, the park will be demolished: PM
Meanwhile, Erdogan has dismissed the protests saying, "Whatever you do, we have decided about that place and we will do it."
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Istanbul's third bridge over the Bosphorus, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Erdogan invited protesters to research the city's history. "If you have respect for history, first you need to learn the history of Gezi Park." Erdogan added that the area had been the site of the "Topcu Kıshlası" (Artillery Barracks) and the work aimed to reconstruct the barracks.