Police fire tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Ankara
AA PhotoPolice fired tear gas and used water cannon on Sunday to disperse protesters in Ankara, on the third day of demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Authorities took the measures to stop thousands of protesters attempting to march to the high-security prime minister's office.
As the clashes continued toward midnight, there were reports of numerous injuries in Ankara, as well as news that police had fired gas bombs at a makeshift hospital that was treating wounded demonstrators.
Meanwhile, tension has risen in the western province of İzmir and the southern province of Adana as police forces attacked demonstrators organizing solidarity protests.
Photos released by Doğan news agency show policemen using batons and pulling young girls' hair while intervening in incidents in İzmir. Some protesters have also been detained, reports said.
Protests turn Ankara into battleground
The capital city’s main meeting point, Kızılay Square, was no different from a battleground on midnight of June 1 after day-long clashes between protesters and the police. Under enormous clouds of tear gas, the square and its surrounding streets became the scene for thousands of people, mostly youngsters from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, to show public anger against the government.
As the prime minister’s office is only a few hundred meters away from the square, the police took all security precautions and harshly responded to the protesters’ intention to walk to the office. In return, a small group among the protesters threw stones and set barricades to prevent police intervention.
This exchange between protesters and police continued for the whole day, and groups could only be dispersed after Saturday midnight, following a heavy use of tear gas by the police.
But only a minority of protesters were there to throw stones and confront the police. Ankara’s initial reaction was against the police’s disproportionate use of force during the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, as reflected in their common slogan: “Everywhere is Taksim, resistance everywhere.” People from all age groups and from different political camps flooded to Kuğulu Park on Friday, from where the reaction in Ankara spread to all corners of the city.
Although peacefully started, the protests turned violent later on May 31 around Kızılay and continued through the weekend. Yesterday was no different as the police sprayed tear gas again to stop the gathering of the protesters in the square.
A number of civil society organizations provided health services to the injured and legal aid to detainees, while others distributed water and snacks to the protesters.
For many Ankara residents, this weekend’s protests were the most significant they had experienced in recent years, and their main expectation was for their voice to be heard by the government.