Police in Istanbul stage crackdown on protesters denouncing Turkish gov't over graft scandal

Police in Istanbul stage crackdown on protesters denouncing Turkish gov't over graft scandal

Police in Istanbul stage crackdown on protesters denouncing Turkish govt over graft scandal

Protesters run away from a water cannon on İstiklal Avenue on Dec 27. AFP photo

Police have staged a crackdown on protesters who took to the streets in Istanbul on Dec. 27 to denounce the corruption and bribery allegations against the government over a graft probe that has shaken the country since last week.

In scenes that were reminiscent of the nationwide Gezi protests, riot police fired tear gas and water cannon against a group of protesters who were attempting to gather on Istanbul’s iconic İstiklal Avenue and near the German Hospital in Cihangir, both in central Beyoğlu.

Police also fired rubber bullets against protesters. Many ambulances and fire trucks were seen entering the pedestrian road following the crackdown.

Daily Radikal reporter Elif İnce, who was covering the protests, was among those shot by rubber bullets. She suffered an injury to her femur, but was subsequently able to continue reporting from the scene.

Some of the protesters hurled fireworks and stones to the riot police officers. At least 31 people were detained, including three lawyers, the Istanbul Bar Association said.


Riot police officers fired rubber bullets on 
protesters who were staging a demo at the
İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul. AFP photo

Footage and photos showed municipality workers closing the street cameras in the surroundings of the Taksim area ahead of the demonstration. 

Protesters, who gathered upon a call that spread via social media, urged the government to resign over the accusations that led to the resignations of three ministers. 

Protesters chanted “Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption,” reminiscent of the slogan “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” that became the motto of the Gezi protests. They also shouted slogans like "Catch the thief!" in reference to the corruption allegations.

Police chased protesters as they tried to escape from the narrow streets leading to the Cihangir neighborhood. The streets surrounding the area were affected by intense tear gas, reports said. 

Similar protests were held in Ankara and İzmir where police also resorted to tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Battles between protesters and police were also reported in Antakya, one of the key battlegrounds between locals and security forces during the height of the Gezi protests.

The sons of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who handed over their portfolios Dec. 26 after resigning, were among the 24 people who have been formally arrested under the corruption investigation.