Scores detained as police take over Istanbul's Gezi Park

Scores detained as police take over Istanbul's Gezi Park

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Scores detained as police take over Istanbuls Gezi Park

Police fire water cannon to disperse a small group of protesters gathered at İstiklal Avenue, Aug. 3. AFP photo

Scores of people have been detained as result of a police intervention against a small group on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue as forces attempted to disperse crowds until the morning hours of Aug. 4.

The number of those detained amounted to around 40, according to daily Radikal, and an unidentified number of protesters were injured due to tear gas canisters and plastic bullets.

Police had closed access to Gezi Park on the night before, following a call on social media for a demonstration at the spot, which became the symbol of nationwide demonstrations last month. Twitter users have been mobilizing to spread word about a gathering at the park in order to commemorate the protesters killed during the Gezi protests.

However, police cordoned off the park’s entrance from the Taksim Square Aug. 3 in the afternoon. A water cannon truck (TOMA) was deployed near the juncture between the pedestrian İstiklal Avenue and Taksim Square, where most of the demonstrations had been concentrated in the last few weeks.

The group was told to disperse in order not to inflict “further damages to the shopkeepers” on İstiklal. A group of demonstrators began a small fire on the street before fleeing down İstiklal.

Police subsequently intervened, pushing protesters down the street and into the side alleys, with Mis Sokak becoming a target for officers. The restaurants and local businesses located on the street were heavily affected by the gas, and were subjected to police searches when protesters took refuge in the street’s shops and cafes.

Many bystanders were soaked from the pressurized water fired by the police and some were severely affected by its chemicals. Police units also detained a person who started a solo sit-in in front of Gezi Park’s entrance.

The intervention lasted into the morning hours as some protesters responded by throwing rocks and bottles at the officers. The group was frequently warned to disperse, but refused to do so for hours.

The park was reopened at 1 a.m., after an eight-hour shutdown.

The intervention prompted a quick response from the opposition benches, as Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Erdoğan Toprak described the police action as “illegal.”

“No one should see themselves as above the law. No one can trample over the freedom and rights of people. People can be attacked and detained for no reason while sitting at a cafe,” Toprak said.