Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki commented on the Gezi Parki protests in Turkey on May 30 during the Daily Press Briefing. Psaki expressed the State Department’s concern “about the number of people who were injured when police dispersed protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.” She continued, “We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing.” Read the full excerpt below:
QUESTION: Thank you. Jen, I wanted to ask about the anti-government protests going on in Turkey today with excessive force. Amnesty condemns the use of excessive force. The opposition is saying that they’re – it’s about Erdogan’s authoritarianism. There have been people seriously hurt. Do you have any comment on this and whether this could be an escalation of something new going on in the region?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are concerned about the number of people who were injured when police dispersed protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing. These freedoms are crucial to any healthy democracy. At this time, we have seen, of course, the reports of Amnesty. We’re still gathering our own information on the incident, so I don’t have any more conclusive detail for you at this time.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about the security of the American (inaudible) in the area? Because it’s very – I mean the crowded in terms of the tourists.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we constantly, of course, monitor that. And as you know we put out regular updates as needed if we have concerns. That has not happened at this stage, and we’re still looking into the details around this incident.
QUESTION: Have you talked to Turkish authorities about the situation or events?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any calls that have happened from the building. I would bet there has been some contact on the ground. I’m happy to check on that after the briefing.
QUESTION: Events and protests actually are still going on as of now. People are gathering in Taksim Square. Do you have any advice, apart from you already mentioned, to the Turkish authorities or protesters in Istanbul?
MS. PSAKI: Again, it’s hard for me to offer that, given we’re still gathering details of what’s happening on the ground. We certainly support universally peaceful protests, as we would in this case, but perhaps we’ll have more to say over the next couple of days.