LOCAL > ‘Occupy Taksim’ grows in spite of crackdown

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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Police forces attacked ‘Occupy Taksim’ protesters with tear gas and pressurized
water in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The issue of police violence has been brought to Parliament, with BDP MPs questioning Interior Minister Güler, who reportedly received a briefing about the protest via phone. AA photo

Police forces attacked ‘Occupy Taksim’ protesters with tear gas and pressurized water in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The issue of police violence has been brought to Parliament, with BDP MPs questioning Interior Minister Güler, who reportedly received a briefing about the protest via phone. AA photo

Çetin Cem Yılmaz Çetin Cem Yılmaz cetincem.yilmaz@hdn.com.tr

Turkish police attacked Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park protesters, injuring dozens, as a sit-in against a mall project entered its fourth day on May 31.

Police made numerous attacks on protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim area, in a crackdown on crowds gathered to stop the bulldozing of trees for a planned mall in the city center. Police detained more than 60, Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said.

Among the scores of injured from gas canisters were Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, BirGün journalist Ahmet Şık and Reuters photojournalist Osman Orsal. Hürriyet Daily News photographer Emrah Gürel was also injured in the leg during the clashes.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Gülseren Onanç said his party’s Sezgin Tanrıkulu had a minor heart operation after being affected by gas, adding that a young activist lost an eye after being hit by a bullet.

The crowd was continuing to gather in the city center on the night of May 31. Also in the evening, an Istanbul court issued a stay of execution on the renovation plan of the area upon a request from a complainant.

The fourth day of the Gezi Park protests started with a raid at dawn on the central Istanbul park, which was occupied by thousands to stop the demolition for a shopping mall, but continued all day with heavy use of water cannon and tear gas all over central Istanbul. Police carried out a raid on Gezi Park at dawn on May 31, forcing protesters, who had been staging an “Occupy Taksim” movement for four days, out of the area. Police used water cannon against everyone at the park, including those who were having their breakfasts early in the morning, and evacuated park, setting up a barricade that would not allow anybody in.

CHP deputy İlhan Cihaner said “The state trapped its citizens. I underline this, it was not an intervention. It was an attack with tear gas and water cannons.” A witness, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “This time they attacked to hurt us.”

The Istanbul Chamber of Medicine did not give the definite number of injuries but said “several people” had been seriously injured, suffering head traumas, arm and leg injuries and lung problems. Reuters reported the number of injured surpassed 100.

Battle in Taksim

After the press statement at 10 a.m., police again tried to disperse the crowds who had scattered to many nearby areas, Harbiye, Gümüşsuyu and İstiklal Square, Turkey’s most populated area.

Another sit-in protest was held at 1 p.m. at the Taksim Square, but the police staged another crackdown with water and gas, chasing protesters into the side streets.

Police threw tear gas into Taksim metro station, and the doors to the station were closed, leaving travelers inside with gas. Metro services were halted.

Interior Minister Muammer Güler defended the police efforts, saying that they had no other option. “Police had no other option but to disperse them when people insist on entering an area although they were told ‘Don’t enter’,” Güler told a group of reporters in Ankara, the daily Hürriyet said. He later said that a probe was opened into “claims of disproportionate use of power by the police.”

Activists continued assembling on social media throughout the day with hashtags “OccupyGezi” and “DirenGeziParki,” which translates as Resist Gezi Park. The “DirenGeziParki” hashtag was a global trending topic on Twitter throughout the day.

Protesters have been staging an “Occupy Gezi Park” protest since midnight of May 26 to prevent the demolition, and police forces continued efforts to end the protest, conducting a dawn raid similar to the one conducted on May 30.

In the last four days, bulldozers in the area were held back by protesters, including the BDP Istanbul deputy Önder, who stood in front of the heavy vehicles.

U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone told CNN Türk about the clashes: “Of course, nobody could be happy to see those saddening images. I am not happy either. I wish a speedy recovery to all those injured. But if you are asking me about U.S. foreign policy, as you know, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to have peaceful protests are fundamentals of a democracy. I am not going to say anything further.”

Brands pull out of Taksim mall project

Several brands have announced they will not participate in a proposed new mall in Istanbul’s Gezi Park amid ongoing protests against its construction. Boyner, YKM, Herry, Silk and Cashmere, Damat and Tween have announced they will not open shops in the mall. Business supremo Ümit Nazlı Boyner quoted her husband Cem Boyner, Boyner Holdings CEO, as saying “I need to listen to my client. It is impossible participate in such a project which is very much objected to by our people and clients.


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Notice on comments

Geir Fugleberg

6/1/2013 10:13:03 PM

Today,when I read the internet edition of Norways largest newspaper it was TOTALY dominated by .news from Turkey,this has newer happened before. Whatever the outcome of theese protests will be in Turkey,I am at least certain that it will be a wakeup call for Europe regarding the true nature of the Erdogan islamofascist regime!

Arnold Yesovitch

6/1/2013 3:35:45 PM

A boy has lost an eye due to a bullet, a woman of Palestinian origin is in critical condition after being struck in the head with a tear gas canister .... how ironic ..... and the police using "excessive force". Is this Turkey or Israel ?

A European

6/1/2013 2:47:01 PM

If you want Turkey to remain as the 'Republic of Turkey' and not turn into the 'Islamic State of Turkey', you should support these protestors and get this government out of power as quickly as possible! First controlling when and where people drink alcohol, then being told not to kiss in public, next you won't be able to hold your partner's hands without being asked to present your marriage certificate. Turkey is heading down the wrong road and the brick wall is not far at all!

Foreigner .

6/1/2013 12:46:35 PM

Why the media blackout on what the protesters are chanting and about their damages to property? The reasonable protest against developments in the park area in Taksim seem to have been hijacked by the agendas of provocateurs that are sowing anti-government sentiment. All those desperate to damage Turkey seem to be trying to maximize from this reasonable protest and CHP seems to lead the process. Shameful.

Eyal Eyal

6/1/2013 11:07:25 AM

This is all because of Israel

Crane Peter

6/1/2013 10:35:13 AM

Gezi Park and the other construction projects maybe just a "Bridge too Far " for the rule of Erdogan. Is this the start of the Arab Spring in Turkey ?

Burak Miron

6/1/2013 10:32:44 AM

One wonders , even if one does not support the PM his actions seemed to be taken from a source of wisdom. However a few of his actions during the last few months indicate that he may have lost this wisdom for good. PM please wake up and listen to the people !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


6/1/2013 10:03:08 AM

It's often the smallest of things that spark major events, in this case the government's continuing and pathological desire to ride roughshod over the good people of Turkey. The writing is clearly on the wall for this dishonest and oppressive AK Parti regime in Turkey.

Sean Ling

6/1/2013 9:55:32 AM

It looks like war has broken out on the streets of Taksim. A WAR AGAINST DEMOCRACY!!!! This government's heavy handed response to protests is typical of middle eastern dictators who would rather attack their own people than admit they were wrong. Türk Müslüm Cumhuriyeti olmaz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

world citizen

6/1/2013 9:44:40 AM

There is no place for Draconian brutality in a civilized Democracy. It's called something else.
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