LOCAL > Police intervene on İstiklal Avenue against protesters gathering to re-enter Gezi

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

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A water cannon truck fired at protesters gathered at the junction of İstiklal Avenue and Taksim Square. AP photo

A water cannon truck fired at protesters gathered at the junction of İstiklal Avenue and Taksim Square. AP photo

Police have heavily intervened in the Taksim area with tear gas and water cannon, targeting protesters gathering on İstiklal Avenue ahead of a demonstration and continuing the intervention into the early hours. The pedestrian İstiklal Avenue is one of the main junctions intersecting with Taksim Square, which is adjacent to Gezi Park.

Protesters dispersed as security forces chased them into side streets, once again using intense tear gas. Ambulances were seen entering the area after the intervention. More than 50 protesters were detained by the police, daily Radikal reported.

Metro access to Taksim Square has been interrupted for hours, while riot police officers were booed by the bystanders on İstiklal Avenue. 

Protesters were organizing a "water fight" event in order to peacefully denounce police's repeated crackdowns using water cannons, which contain water mixed with the same chemical substances as tear gas, when security forces intervened.

Following the intervention, the Taksim Solidarity Platform gathered near Taksim Square to serve the notice of the Istanbul 1st Regional Court's June 6 decision, which canceled the controversial Taksim pedestrianization project and the Artillery Barracks project set to replace Gezi Park. The platform argues that the Taksim Square pedestrianization project and the Artillery Barracks project have lost their legal grounds.

The park has been closed to the public since police evicted protesters three weeks ago. Many protesters maintained that the police did not have the legal right to seal off after the court ruling. 

Gürsel Tekin, the deputy head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also joined the protesters and negotiated with the police officers to prevent an intervention. However, police started firing again water cannons just a few minutes after warning the protesters to disperse. Gürsel was reportedly affected by the crackdown.

Footage show assailants with machetes

Riot police also fired tear gas at a restaurant near the renowned Marmara hotel after people showed their disapproval of the police’s actions with applause, private broadcaster CNN Türk reported. 

Meanwhile, amateur video footage showing unidentified people with machetes indiscriminately attacking protesters and bystanders running from the effects of tear gas emerged after yesterday's crackdown. One of the assailants is seen kicking a woman on her back while holding a machete on his hand. 

The footage was recorded in the Talimhane area where a dozen of touristic hotels are located. Two people involved in the attacks with machetes have been detained, Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said via Twitter following the publication of the footage.

“Our police will continue to do their duty with carefulness against such attacks,” Mutlu wrote, as security forces were criticized for not preventing the machete-wielders.

Taksim demo unlawful: Governor

A few hours earlier, Mutlu had said that the demonstration was not authorized and would result in a police intervention. 

"The Constitution says that anyone can stage a demonstration without giving notification, but the legislation says that applying to the authorities for permission is mandatory. So nobody can say they exercise their constitutional rights. This is unlawful," Mutlu told reporters July 6 regarding the protest that was due to start at 7 p.m.

"I can't allow a demonstration that I haven't permitted in advance, I can't act unlawfully. So we won't allow these gatherings. Our police will warn them. We believe that an significant number will leave the place after these warnings," Mutlu said, only hours announcing via Twitter that Gezi Park would be open to the public tomorrow.

"There are always small groups that seek confrontation with the police," he said.

Gas Man Festival

Kadıköy, on Istanbul’s Asian side, is also set to witness another protest on Sunday. The “Man Made of Tear Gas” Festival is set to take place today in the district, bringing together the “rebellious” crowds and a set of artists scheduled to perform at the event.

The festival flyer states that the form of protesting has changed over time, and that a new form of demonstration “for an independent and democratic Turkey” has turned all parks and streets into festivals “with the demand of freedom.”

The festival is set to host a series of artists, including Bulutsuzluk Özlemi, Kurtalan Ekspres, Cem Adrian and the Boğaziçi University’s Jazz Choir. A fashion show will also be among the festivities.

The anti-government protests that were first sparked by a severe police intervention against a small, peaceful group protesting plans for a mall in Gezi Park received a severe blow when police forces cleared out the park after a days-long occupation by protesters.

Despite this, the movement refused the die down and instead spread to parks nationwide and individual forms of protest erupted around the country.

Security officials are continuing to launch raids in various cities, detaining people over alleged vandalism during the protests.


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Notice on comments

mara mcglothin

7/7/2013 8:02:15 PM

OTTOMAN REACTIONARY It is a bit more than 10,000 people who are upset.

Brit in Turkey

7/7/2013 7:21:02 PM

Ottoman Reactionary: But 10,000 people can make the government think and force a vote of "no confidence" in parliament in the party or leader. If anyone in the AKP had intelligence, moral fibre, and guts, they would by now have ousted their leader. Incidentally in the case of Australia, the British queen has the power to dissolve the Australian parliament for gross incompetence. Does the president here have the same power?

Ottoman Reactionary

7/7/2013 12:27:01 PM

@Brit in Turkey Government can't be overthrown/changed by 10.000 people in 75 million country.

Dave Chapman

7/7/2013 11:53:34 AM

Oh OTTOMAN REACTIONARY, you make me feel like a political heavyweight, I thank you for that at least! If a protestor demands that the PM/Government resign, then, by definition, he HAS a demand. It has also been made very clear in other news reports that it is a Constitutional RIGHT to protest, ergo, not treason! Protestors, by definition, again, are PROTESTING, they are not there for fun, and clearly not for their health.

Sophie Abard

7/7/2013 9:08:46 AM

K M what are you talking about? Don't you know that the Constitution is simply what the ruling party say it is? Get a grip on life! :)

Brit in Turkey

7/7/2013 8:14:03 AM

Ottoman Reactionary: In a democracy governments or leaders fall when it is the will of the people and even when it is mid-term between elections. Please read up on recent events in Australia.

Rimon Tree

7/7/2013 8:11:18 AM

@ MARA you are perfectly right! As ususal we got it all "out fo context", LOL!

Engin Atik

7/7/2013 2:20:08 AM

Hah! @mara I like your comment! BB's sardonic teaching is taking root!

Ottoman Reactionary

7/7/2013 12:40:44 AM

Protesters must have demands or they are nothing else but anti-state element that can be sued for treason, conspiracy against their own country. In democracy protesters have absolutely no right to request Government departure because it is elected government by majority of people. If protesters think they can be there just "because they want to be there" They are also wrong, because it's an attack on economy and illegal pre-election propaganda.

mara mcglothin

7/7/2013 12:33:11 AM

This looks to me like misreporting. The AKP was simply fertilizing and watering before the opening of the park tomorrow, and the protestors got in the way, and then the evil manipulative press misreported the pictures. Godspeed CILGIN. Keep us informed. Stay safe.
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