Ankara’s ‘chapulling’ draws heavy-handed police response

Ankara’s ‘chapulling’ draws heavy-handed police response

Ankara’s ‘chapulling’ draws heavy-handed police response

Riot police use a water cannon against an anti-government protester as others run away during a demonstration in Kızılay. Ankara police had also intervened on June 5, using tear gas and water cannons primarily on tents, which were just put up in Kuğulu Park similarly to Gezi Park in Istanbul. REUTERS photo

Ankara residents’ brief respite from tear gas ended June 8, as thousands of “chapullers” who came to protest in solidarity with Taksim Gezi Park were beaten back by a crushing attack from the city’s police.

Earlier in Kuğulu Park, some protesters were observed to have rebuilt tents, which were dismantled on June 7 as police had demanded that they be removed. After negotiations, protesters cooperated, but the tents were rebuilt June 8. 

Much like in Gezi Park in Istanbul, protesters gave away free books and food to protesters, or “chapullers” as they have been dubbed in reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s degrading naming of the protesters as “one or two çapulcu,” meaning “marauders.” 

Groups gathered after a light and began marching to Kızılay along Tunalı Hilmi Avenue, where they were joined by Çarşı, Beşiktaş’s legendary supporters’ group, which has strongly backed the Gezi protests. 

Once the crowd reached Kızılay, the police made an announcement demanding that traffic be allowed to flow. When the 5,000-strong crowd refused to disperse, police attacked them with a barrage of tear gas and water cannon at around 10:30 p.m. 

Kennedy Avenue was also a hot spot for police confrontation. On Atatürk Boulevard, the police formed a barricade near the U.S. embassy, the Parliament and ministries in a bid to prevent protesters from reaching any official institutions. 

Soon after the police intervention, protesters began to retreat to side streets. The protest went on until late at night, with a number of injuries being reported, according to daily Hürriyet. 

Regarding the protests in Ankara, Interior Minister Muammer Güler has previously announced that Kızılay is off limits because any protest there hampers people’s regular lives.