Police forces attacked Taksim Gezi Park protesters at dawn with tear gas and violence for a second consecutive day this morning in a new attempt to disperse crowds protesting the planned construction of a new mall.
Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said a total of 12 protesters had been injured in the crackdown. Earlier the Istanbul Chamber of Medicine had stated that seven people have been seriously injured, with six people suffering from serious head trauma and a teacher’s leg having been broken. However, according to witnesses' accounts the number is significantly higher.
Protesters have been staging an “Occupy Gezi Park” since May 26 to prevent the demolition of the park, and police forces continued efforts to end the protest, conducting a dawn raid similar to the one conducted on May 30.
Protesters had to escape to nearby streets to shelter from the tear gas. A wall that protesters attempted to climb over collapsed, leaving a number of people badly injured.
According to social media reports, police continued to pursue protesters in various directions after their attack on the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Istanbul deputy Şirin Ünal mocked the protesters on his Twitter account, supporting the police’s heavy-handed use of gas. “Obviously there are some people in need of gas,” Ünal posted.
“If you leave there [Taksim Square] I hope you will have a good day, the system needs to be obeyed,” he also tweeted. His tweets drew an intense reaction from other social media users.
Journalist Ahmet Şık recieved head injuries in the clashes. AA photo
Ahmet Şık, a journalist
for daily Posta and daily BirGün, was hospitalized due to a tear gas canister reportedly hitting him in the head, according to reporters on the ground.
Hürriyet Daily News photo-reporter Emrah Gürel has also been injured in the leg.
Gezi Park is a small area, Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu said, adding that there was only a limited number of trees. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has previously voiced his determination to demolish the park and replace it with a shopping mall.
“Do whatever you want to do, but we’ve made our decision,” Erdoğan said.
Amnesty International condemns 'use of excessive force' at Taksim
DAILY NEWS photo / Emrah Gürel
Amnesty International has condemned “the use of excessive force, including pepper spray, against peaceful protestors in a park in central Istanbul.”
The statement notes that “[at] least one protestor was seriously injured, needing emergency surgery.
“In the early hours of 30 May, police moved in to destroy their tents, and used pepper spray to disperse the protestors. A 23-year-old protestor was seriously injured after sprayed with tear gas, kicked and hit by police when he was holding onto a tree. Any decision to disperse an assembly should be taken only as a last resort and in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality.
"International standards require that in dispersing assemblies, police must avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, must restrict any such force to the minimum necessary. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to carry out a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of excessive and unnecessary use of force, and ensure that any law enforcement officials responsible for arbitrary or abusive use of force to be prosecuted. Amnesty International also calls on the authorities to ensure protestors’ rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” the statement read.