LOCAL > Many injured as police enter Taksim Square to 'clear banners'

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

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Riot policemen take cover as a petrol bomb explodes in front of them during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Hundreds of police in riot gear forced through barricades in Istanbul's central Taksim Square early Tuesday, pushing many of the protesters who had occupied the square for more than a week into a nearby park. AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis

Riot policemen take cover as a petrol bomb explodes in front of them during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Hundreds of police in riot gear forced through barricades in Istanbul's central Taksim Square early Tuesday, pushing many of the protesters who had occupied the square for more than a week into a nearby park. AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis

Erdem Güneş Erdem Güneş erdem.gunes@hdn.com.tr

Riot police have taken partial control of Taksim Square after entering the site around 7.30 a.m. and surrounded the Atatürk Statue following use of tear gas and pressurized water on the protesters.

As of 11:30, a human chain had been formed to prevent the police from intervening, but was immediately dispersed by the officers. Crowds at the park do not come down to the square, but try to support the clashing groups by chanting slogans.

The police also intervened with a gathering at the Gezi Park scheduled for 1 p.m. with tear gas and pressurized water. The Taksim Square was under a thick cloud of tear gas as of 1:30 p.m., while more people were reportedly injured during the ongoing crackdown.

Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said there had been only minor injuries and no one had been hospitalized.

However, hundreds of protesters have been wounded during today's clashes, with five critical cases, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) president Ahmet Özdemir Aktan told the HDN.

The injuries include tens of head traumas due to the close shots of the gas canisters, Aktan added, particularly mentioning one case where the protester’s skull was severely cracked. The protester is currently undergoing an operation at Şişli Etfal Hospital.

The numbers of injured have been gathered from five different infirmaries around the Taksim area, Aktan said.

It was the first time the police entered the square since they retreated from the iconic venue on June 1.

The Governor's Office said the operation only aimed to "clear the banners and flags on the Atatürk statue and the AKM cultural center" and no operation was planned for the Gezi Park. Police used tear gas and pressurized water against a handful of protesters clashing with the police, while the majority of the protesters retreated to Gezi Park and asked everybody to remain calm.

Police enter Taksim Square
to 'clean banners'

Live television footage showed a few Molotov cocktails being thrown at police officers. The Gezi Park protesters were quick to put distance between them and the clashers, saying on Twitter that they had never seen those who threw the Molotov cocktails in the two-week-long demonstrations.

Clashes between police and small groups of protesters continue in streets and alleys around Taksim Square. Gezi Park is relatively calm aside from the effects of the tear gas generously used in the square. Police also used tear gas and pressurized water against groups trying to enter the square.

Some protestors were seen talking to the police in an attempt to convince them not to use tear gas, while also trying to calm their fellow protestors.

The banners and flags hanging on the AKM cultural center and the Atatürk statue were removed by the police. Only a Turkish flag and an Atatürk poster remained on the AKM.

Forces have also removed the barricades that had been built by protesters on the streets entering the Taksim area.

In a written statement, the Governor's Office said the operation aimed only to remove the banners and flags and no intervention was planned for Gezi Park and the tents inside.

Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu wrote on his Twitter account that they would “never touch Gezi Park and the protesters.”

“I ask you to calmly wait where you are without any provocations,” Mutlu wrote.


Photo by Daily News
reporter Erdem Arda Güneş

Olat Güden, a young protestor who was hit with a gas canister, said the police fired the gas bomb from 50 meters away pointing the the gas gun to his face. 

"I had a Turkish flag in my hand and I was trying to stop the clash between the protestors and police, I was I the middle and he hit me," Güden role the Hürriyet Daily News on the while volunteer doctors was treating his heavily injured right leg.

One of the injured was unconscious, possibly passed out. Police have continued using gas in the Sıraselviler, Tarlabaşı and Elmadağ sections of Taksim. One of the protesters told the Daily News that the police had aimed tear gas at his face, and when he turned around the run away, the gas capsule hit him in the leg.

Despite constant announcements by police forces warning Gezi Park crowds to remain in the park, protesters are currently trying to approach the clashes in a move to show support and solidarity with those under police intervention.


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Notice on comments

Rimon Tree

6/11/2013 11:11:17 PM

@ mara I did not intend to hurt your american feelings, but I insist it is a shame that Obama and consorts (and "successful I meant sarcastic) are not able to utter one word of condemn for the lunatic behaviour of the Turkish AKP! I do not think they should interfere, beware! Whereever they interfere a big mess came of it, sorry!

Brit in Turkey

6/11/2013 7:16:38 PM

eva ... The protest started (and still encompasses) the blatant attempt by the government to concrete over the park. When this is done where will your mother walk her child or where will the grandfathers sit?

J. E.

6/11/2013 6:34:57 PM

I see the police acting exactly the same in Northern Europe. Plenty of teargas and pepperspray used. A lot of violence on innocents. Teenagers getting beaten up by police. It's not okay at all, but please! Don't point your finger at Turkey saying they have a particuarly brutal police. Heck, I'd even say they are showing restraint considering those they are facing. That be organized hooligans and militant anarchists attempting to topple the government with innocent protestors as "shields".

mara mcglothin

6/11/2013 6:07:33 PM

Shame on you RIMON! What would you have Obama do or say? Once again the USA is damned if they do and damned if they don't! "most successful" FM, really? He is a dweeb along with his boss. This is a fight for the people of Turkey, and they should be the voice heard, NOT politicians from others countries. Everyone knows this is all wrong and no democratic.

mara mcglothin

6/11/2013 6:03:31 PM

Great writing BLUE! The pictures don't lie. There were many children in the park and also many old people. It is the police that are causing the chaos, and EVA if the AKP has their way THEN THERE WON'T BE ANY PARK!

american american

6/11/2013 5:35:00 PM

can`t use what ain`t there eva

mara mcglothin

6/11/2013 4:59:15 PM

RIMON Obama has no backbone and don't even get me started on his brain!

Blue Dotterel

6/11/2013 4:30:51 PM

@Eva, "If a mother wants to take her child for a walk in the park, which is her democratic right, can she? If two grandfathers want to go and sit and chat in the park, can they?" Yes, they can and have when the protesters were there. I saw them. They can't when the police are attacking demonstrators, and won't be able to when the park isn't there. The only people imposing on people's freedoms are the police and the government.


6/11/2013 3:38:27 PM

Some people posting here don’t get it, do they? The protests are against a tyrant and dictator who is taking away peoples’ liberty. With each day this tyrant perpetrates more and more acts of violence and oppression against “his” own people. Just look at the extent of the demonstrations, they are nation-wide, for those of you who are AKP and Erdogan apologists the game is up, your days are numbered.

Rimon Tree

6/11/2013 3:17:46 PM

From BBC: "But in public, the White House has carefully avoided criticizing the prime minister directly, though the US has urged Turkish authorities to exercise restraint. There also have been no known conversations between Obama and his Turkish counterpart since the protests began." This is what I mean when claiming Obama being brain-dead! The socalled "democrat" in WH, that's what I am calling Shame on the west!
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