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Standing Man: Turkey Demonstrators Flock To Join Silent Protestor

Image: Standing Man: Turkey Demonstrators Flock To Join Silent Protestor Erdem Gunduz, right, stands silently on Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, early Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 01:04 PM

By Clyde Hughes

Erdem Gunduz began his one-man protest on Istanbul's Taksim Square on Monday, standing silently for eight hours, a stark contrast from mass violence in Turkey between hundreds of demonstrators and police.

By the time police moved in at 2 a.m. Tuesday to break up the crowds, 300 others were standing silently in solidarity with Gunduz.

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Reuters reported there were similar protests in other parts of Istanbul, as well as in the cities of Ankara and Izmir.

Social media users identified Gunduz as "standing man," with many using the Twitter hashtags #Duranadam and #standingman.

The Agence France-Presse reported Gunduz's one-man protest was designed to get around the ban on gatherings in the square.

Gunduz's supporters stood outside the square, trying to prevent a gathering that would spark police retaliation.

"We want to protect him from any provocation," Asma, a young Turkish woman, told AFP as she tried to keep the gathering onlookers back. "He has to be alone in the middle of the square, otherwise the police will use the pretext of a gathering to clear everyone away."

Gunduz faced the Ataturk Cultural Centre from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. until policed stepped in and forced him to leave. Reuters reported 10 people were arrested when they refused to move on.

Police fired tear gas and pressurized water at a crowd to break up the gathering at the square on Saturday, AFP said. There has been a crackdown on protests since May 31, when a peaceful protest against the redevelopment of the square sparked a national demonstration against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, AFP reported.

Four have died and nearly 7,500 have been injured since the protests started, the Turkish Medical Association told News.com.au. Protesters have accused Erdogan of forcing Islamic conservative reforms on the mostly Muslim but secular nation.

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