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RIGHTS > 14 tons of water mixed with tear gas used in May Day crackdown by Istanbul police

ISTANBUL - Radikal

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Police stressed that the amount used was 'sufficient.' DHA photo

Police stressed that the amount used was 'sufficient.' DHA photo

A total of 14 tons of water mixed with tear gas was used during the police crackdown on demonstrators on May Day in Istanbul, a lawyer has learned by using the right to information act, daily Radikal published May 26.

Mehmet Ümit Erdem, an attorney who was sprayed by water cannons in the Beşiktaş district, despite just being a passer-by, filed a complaint on May 2. One week later, he requested the Istanbul Police Department reveal how much tear gas and water they used in the Labor Day clashes. The answer that he received from the riot police department said the water used against demonstrators contained the same chemicals as the tear gas solution fired by police, but stressed that amount used was "proportionate and sufficient."

"The instruments of coercion used by the police (gas sprays, gas grenades, gas cartridges, gas solutions, etc.) are used in accordance with the instructions given and in 'sufficient quantity.' The chemical substance in the water used is the same as that in the CS gas solution. During the events 14 tons of water were used," the answer read.

The crackdown on May Day against protesters who tried to access the iconic Taksim Square drew huge criticism. The Istanbul Governor's Office had refused to allow access to the area, citing the danger that the ongoing construction of a tunnel nearby the square could pose. However, this decision was criticized by labor unions, and many May Day demonstrators marched in the direction of Taksim determined to gain access to the symbolic square.

The use of tear gas and water cannons by the police, which peaked on May Day, has seen a sharp increase in recent months. One of the many recent episodes causing general unease was the police's heavy intervention in the protest - which included many domestic and international cultural figures - against the demolition of Istanbul's historic Emek movie theater in April.

May/26/2013

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