Istanbul governor says police crackdown in Taksim aimed only to remove banners
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu held a press briefing in Istanbul today, as clashes continued at the square. DHA photoThe police intervention at Taksim Square in the early hours of the day aimed only at removing the banners hanging from the Atatürk statue and the Atatürk Culture Center and had no relation to the Gezi Park protesters, Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said today at a press briefing as clashes continued at the square.
Mutlu said the ambitions of the intervention had been shared well with the public and carried no attitude against the Gezi Park protesters, simply aiming to remove the banners that had turned the building and the statue to “an advertisement billboard of legal and illegal organizations.”
The banners were “upsetting the public, as well as harmful to Turkey’s image abroad,” according to Mutlu.
The governor also added that certain individuals or small groups “wanted to enter into clashes with the police forces” and succeeded in doing so, but greater chaos had been prevented by the forces. Mutlu then thanked the Gezi protesters, who “refused to fall for those who tried to pull them toward the clashes.”
Mutlu accused “marginal groups” of using smoke bombs and fireworks to create a scene of overuse of tear gas in order to organize public discontent with police officers.
Minor injuries, undercover police claims
Mutlu told members of the press that no major injuries had so far been reported and no one had been hospitalized, but minor injuries had occurred amid the clashes.
As for whether or not anyone had been detained, Mutlu confirmed an unidentified number of detainments, which may continue depending on the process.
The governor then dismissed claims regarding undercover police presence at the site, which had been a strong and frequent rumor at the square, especially with photos surfacing of an alleged protester showing a bump in his pants similar to a police walkie-talkie or a gun.
“Walkie-talkies are things that are sold everywhere, and marginal groups use them for their own purposes. You can see that they use them to communicate with each other. The purpose of such acts can be seen clearly now,” Mutlu said.
Those who entered the clashes were not defending an idea, but simply were showing their walkie-talkies, fireworks and Molotov cocktails, Mutlu added.
“Social media does have a side that is objective, but it can also be used for provocations,” Mutlu said. “We will be careful about those who wish to put our police forces in difficult situations through lies like these.”