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Police intervene in IMF protests in Taksim

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 10/6/2009 12:00:00 AM |

Police used pepper gas and pressurized water against protesters in Taksim who protested IMF and World Bank meetings in Istanbul. Protesters who want to walk towards the Congress Valley where the meetings held broke the windows of some banks and shops in Taksim and clashes with police. There are 50 people under custody

Around 6,000 people marching in central Istanbul in protest of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings were confronted by police with pepper spray and pressurized water on Tuesday.

Trade unions and professional chambers organized a gathering to protest the meetings of the two financial organizations. Members of many political groups and organizations including the Freedom and Solidarity Party, or ÖDP, Labor Party, or EMEP, the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, or KESK and the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions, or DİSK gathered in Taksim Square.

“This country and these people are not for sale,” “Go to hell IMF and the collaborateur AKP [Justice and Development Party],” “IMF go to hell,” were among slogans the group chanted. After a speech by Sami Evren, the head of KESK, the crowd attempted to walk from Taksim Square to Congress Valley, where the IMF and WB meetings are ongoing.

As police broke up the procession, many people were taken into custody while protestors clashed with officers on side streets. Istanbul Gov. Muammer Güler said 50 people were in custody. Meanwhile, Istanbul Police Chief Hüseyin Çapkın said “There was the press meeting of trade unions like KESK and DİSK but some illegal groups threw Molotov cocktails and pepper gas at the police and made trouble. Because of that, we had to use force for the first time,” he said.  

Protestors attacked banks and some shops in the Cihangir neighborhood while some Molotov cocktails were sighted in Tarlabaşı, the private news channel NTV reported. Protestors in Cihangir broke into some shops and took lemon and lemon cologne to neutralize the affect of the pepper gas that police used extensively.

[VIDEOS/2009/10/protest.flv]

Clouds of tear gas filled the air above Taksim Square while firefighters battled a blaze set by protesters. Passersby and reporters were also affected by the tear gas. The streets were littered with debris from damaged shops and empty tear gas canisters. The leaders of the trade unions and chambers who organized today’s march said the police attack was planned before the protest started. In Tophane, a neighborhood below Taksim, some people who did not participate in protests beat protestors in the streets.

Meanwhile,

İsak Kalvo, a craftsman in Taksim, suffered a heart attack and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance that was already on Istiklal Street to help a policeman who had been adversly affected by pepper gas, Doğan news agency reported. Kalvo died in hospital. There were other people, including passersby and police who were adversely affected by the pepper gas and received injuries during the clashes.

[HH] ‘Listen to the protests’

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who spoke at the IMF meeting while the protests occurred outside, said the world needs a campaign of solidarity and cooperation and demanded that the 21st century be an age of opportunities. “That is why the world needs to work more and think more on this issue. We need to listen to the scream from the world, to the demands and the protests going on outside this hall,” he said.  

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