A group of demonstrators take a 'selfie' picture in front of a water cannon truck during May Day. AA Photo
Some 25,000 police officers and 50 water cannon trucks (TOMAs) have been assigned to prevent demonstrations marking the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests this weekend in Istanbul, with the city’s governor warning that no gathering will be allowed in the Taksim area.
“Groups in small numbers could try to reach their own aims. But we will take measures against it,” Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters on May 28, while denying that the tight security measures meant that Taksim Square would be closed.
“We are not closing down Taksim at all. But when there is a difficult situation, measures are taken as a process of a couple of hours or a day. One would wish that both Taksim and Gezi Park will be full of people as they are right now,” Mutlu said.
The Istanbul Police Department is set for a heavy police deployment around Taksim Square to prevent gatherings on May 31. Unlike on May Day, access to Taksim will not be blocked by metal barricades, though public transport to the square, including metro lines, will be canceled. Some 25,000 riot police will be assigned to both Taksim and the roads connecting to the iconic square.
Along with 50 TOMAs and a large number of armored vehicles, helicopters will also be dispatched to conduct air surveillance.
May 31 marks the first anniversary of the brutal dawn crackdown to evacuate Gezi Park, which triggered 24 hours of unrest and intense police violence in Taksim, sparking nationwide protests throughout last summer.