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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Some other Turkish protestors stormed the European Commission building in London"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 22:27 GMT
Turks' London Eye protest over
Demonstrators led away
Demonstrators are defiant as they leave
Police have removed the last of the protesters who occupied the London Eye to highlight the recent violence in Turkish prisons.

In a peaceful operation lasting about 90 minutes, police escorted the final demonstrators off the giant observation wheel at about 2030GMT.

Those arrested, thought to belong to the Solidarity Committee with Political Prisoners in Turkey, were taken to a police station for questioning about damage to a pod.

About 600 sightseers were earlier evacuated from the London Eye.


Our security is constantly reviewed, and as with any incident we will be reviewing our procedures with police

London Eye spokeswoman
No-one was injured or threatened during the incident, although earlier reports suggested the protesters planned to set fire to themselves.

The group of more than 20 demonstrators had taken over two pods of the giant observation wheel on the south bank of the River Thames at about 1445GMT on Wednesday.

Another 50 protesters had gathered beneath the wheel to chant slogans and hand out leaflets.

One of two occupied pods
Some 600 people were on the wheel
A spokeswoman for the London Eye said: "The wheel is expected to be open for customers at the normal time of 9.30am tomorrow (Thursday).

"We are relieved the protesters have chosen to come off.

"Our security is constantly reviewed, and as with any incident we will be reviewing our procedures with police.

"We are constantly in touch with police and other authorities who have been advising us on security measures.

"Our priority was to get everyone off safely this evening."

'Kurdish' occupation

In a separate protest on Wednesday afternoon, demonstrators occupied the London offices of the European Commission.

Twelve men and women were arrested at 1845GMT and taken to a West End Central police station.

They face possible charges of criminal damage, trespassing and assault on a security guard.

Protesters beneath London Eye
There were protests at several London locations
It is thought both groups have been angered by violent clashes this week between security forces and inmates in Turkish jails.

Nineteen people have died in the confrontations following a 60-day hunger strike by inmates over conditions.

In a phone call to Reuters news agency the occupiers of the European Commission in London said they were the "families and friends of political prisoners in Turkey".

Parliament demonstration

Earlier on Wednesday, a man and a woman chanting "Stop the massacres in Turkish prisons" were dragged from the public gallery in the House of Commons.

A banner carried by the pair was snatched by attendants before it could be unrolled.

In February 1999, a group of 79 protesters occupied the Greek Embassy in London for three days following the arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya.

A 15-year-old girl outside the building set herself on fire during the protest but survived.

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See also:

20 Dec 00 | UK
Third time unlucky for Eye
20 Dec 00 | Europe
Turkish prison rebels fight on
19 Dec 00 | Europe
Explosive mix in Turkey's jails
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