Istanbul's Gezi Park closed again on World Peace Day
This file photo shows riot police use their shields to protest themselves as they clash with protesters in central Istanbul July 8, 2013. REUTERS/Murad SezerTaksim’s Gezi Park was closed again Sept.1 by Istanbul police to prevent people from gathering after calls were made through social media to form a human chain in several cities of Turkey to mark Sept. 1, World Peace Day.
Police took high security measures in the morning, encircling Taksim Square and taking positions on different sections of İstiklal Avenue.
Policemen broke a human chain that was being formed by a group at Taksim Square by pushing people with their shields.
Another group was prevented by the police from forming a human chain near the prime minister’s office in the Beşiktaş district. The group then started chanting slogans such as “hand in hand for peace,” “long live the brotherhood of people,” “Syrian people are not alone,” and dispersed into the side streets. The police teams continued their watch in front of the prime ministry’s Dolmabahçe office.
A group of gay rights activists who attempted to form a human chain in front of the Prime Ministry’s Beşiktaş office were prevented from doing so by the police. Another group which came to the scene was also prevented by the police forces. The group made a human chain from the Beşiktaş district to the Kabataş neighborhood, many of them wearing white-colored clothes representing peace. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy came to the scene and attempted to join the human chain. At this moment, the riot police attempted to disperse the group, by pushing them with their shields. After a scuffle, the police allowed the group to form a human chain toward Kabataş. The groups dispersed after a demonstration lasting around 30 minutes.
Kadıköy Square was closed to vehicle traffic for a Peace Day rally organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Many BDP supporters gathered in the district located on the Anatolian side of Istanbul to mark the peace day.
Meanwhile, another human chain demonstration took place in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, located on the Anatolian side of the city. Many people gathered at Kadıköy’s Yoğurtçu Park to make a human chain.
The group holding placards reading, “hand in hand for peace,” chanted slogans such as “peace now.” The drivers also honked to show their support for the peace chain.
The authorities have taken tight security measures in order to prevent the Gezi Park incidents which started in May as a reaction to a development plan in the park and subsequently spread across the country. Five people, including a policeman, were killed during the incidents.
Recently, the Interior Ministry demanded heightened security measures inside university campuses and dormitories ahead of the upcoming academic term out of fear that the latent anger from the Gezi protests would explode once more in a “hot autumn.”