All quiet in Istanbul on anniversary of Gezi protests
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Young people relax in Gezi Park on May 30 after police reopened the park. DHA photoIstanbul remained silent in the early hours of the day as thousands of policemen were deployed to Taksim Square on the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests that shook the country last year.
However, roads and the underground to the heart of last year’s demonstrations were accessible.
Additional policemen from 11 other provinces were deployed to the city as part of measures against possible protests, which are likely to begin later in the day.
Taksim Solidarity, the group that led last year’s protests, had earlier made a call to gather at Taksim Square at 7 p.m. to commemorate young people killed at Gezi protests and clashes.
The group also called for commemorations of Elif Çermik, a 64-year-old woman who became the latest victim of police violence on May 30 as she died after spending 159 days in coma due to a heart attack triggered by tear gas.
Along with fire trucks, water cannon trucks (TOMAs) and other anti-riot vehicles, some construction equipment, which are commonly used by the police to move road barricades, are seen at the square.
Officials had announced that some 25,000 police officers and 50 TOMAs, would be on alert during expected protests.
In its latest measure, the Istanbul police have canceled all holidays and increased the shifts of police officers to 12 hours until a second order.
Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu has slammed calls for demonstrations, reiterating that “measures will be adopted” to prevent any gathering in Istanbul. Six young protesters died during crackdowns directly connected to the Gezi protests – Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, Abdullah Cömert, Ethem Sarısülük, Ali İsmail Korkmaz, Ahmet Atakan and, most recently, 15-year-old Berkin Elvan. Gezi protesters have also adopted Medeni Yıldırım, who was shot during a protest against the building of a new gendarmerie post in Diyarbakır’s Lice district in June 2013 and Hasan Ferit Gedik, who was killed in a clash between gangs and leftist groups in Istanbul’s Gülsuyu neighborhood last September, as victims of police violence.
The protests began late May last year against plans to replace Taksim Gezi Park with a shopping mall, as May 31 marks a major police crackdown at the park, before it spread all across the city and several other provinces.