Turkey: Victims of massacre commemorated 28 years later
Thousands of people gathered on Sunday in Istanbul's Gazi neighborhood on the occasion of the anniversary of violent incidents that left over 20 people dead in May 1995.
The incidents had started on 12 March 1995 as four coffee houses frequented by the neighborhood's Alevi residents were simultaneously targeted in apparently coordinated attacks by unidentified gunmen. The first wave of attacks left one - an Alevi religious leader - dead and 25 injured, five in critical condition.
The immediate mass protest was targeted with firearms by the police who killed a demonstrator and injured several others.
The large protest on 13 March was attended by an estimated 15,000, who marched to a police station, and the police fatally shot 15 protesters and injured several people including reporters in the ensuing incidents. The same day curfew was declared in the neighborhood and the area was cordoned off by police units.
Troops were dispatched to the neighborhood after the residents defied the curfew and called on state officials to lift it and release detainees.
The protests spread on 15 March to neighborhoods in Istanbul's Umraniye, where confrontations with the police and the latter's violent response left five dead and over 20 injured.
A crowd on Sunday marched, with placards, flags and pictures of the victims, and gathered outside the cemevi (Alevi house of gathering and worship) at the offices of Gazi Education and Culture Foundation, Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.
Placards with signs reading "Killing State" and "The State Killed" were seized by the police, MA said, adding that the demonstrators marched from the cemevi to a police station behind a banner that read, "From Gazi to Umraniye, we want justice," and that the names of the victims were read out by the crowd.
The Turkish president at the time of Gazi Massacre was Suleyman Demirel, the prime minister Tansu Ciller, the interior minister Nahit Mentese, the Istanbul police chief Mehmet Agar.