At least 120 detained in Istanbul on Gezi riots anniversary

Protesters seeking to mark first anniversary of Gezi Park incidents clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara. Istanbul Police Chief says four police officers were wounded, one by bullet, during the clashes with protesters

At least 120 detained in Istanbul on Gezi riots anniversary

World Bulletin/News Desk

Around 120 people have been detained in Istanbul as police intervened to disperse protester groups gathered to mark the anniversary of last year's Gezi Park protests, said Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok late Saturday.

Speaking to reporters at Istanbul's Taksim Square, he said four police officers were wounded including a deputy police chief.

One of the officers were injured by bullet while the deputy police chief was wounded by a molotov cocktail thrown by protesters.

Meanwhile, AA photojournalist Atilgan Ozdil was wounded as a beer bottle was thrown from a nearby building hit him in the head while he was shooting the events in Besiktas district.

After calls from Taksim Solidarity Group for mass protests on the first anniversary of the start of the Gezi Park protests, riot police took strict security measures around the Taksim Square, which was the center point in the last year's demonstration which later mushroomed into mass anti-government protests across the country, resulting in the deaths of eight people, including a police officer.

Putting up barricades, riot police closed roads including Istiklal Street to block access to the Taksim Square, whereas only reporters are allowed into the square.

The security forces intervened against groups who gathered near Istiklal and Okmeydani to march towards Taksim while chanting slogans.

Several deputies from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who were among the groups, demanded from the police forces to let the march to the square.

After police did not allow the march, the groups clashed with the security ffankaraorces and tried to break the barricade. In return, riot police dispersed them by using tear gas and water cannon.

Some shops near the area were damaged during the clashes.

Police helicopters also patrolled over the region.

Meanwhile, around 150 protesters in Okmeydani district blocked the traffic on Piyalepasa Street and chanted slogans.

After the police intervened, the protesters threw stones, fireworks and molotov cocktails at them.

The street is still closed to traffic due to security concerns.

Earlier in the day, all ferry lines from Istanbul's Anatolian side to the European side were cancelled as part of the security measures.

Istanbul's police department deployed 7,500 police officers and 50 riot control vehicles (TOMA) to Taksim district alone on Saturday morning. Istanbul governor said security forces would not let any crowds gather around Taksim Square.

In total, around 25,000 police officers are on duty today in the districts Taksim, Besiktas, Dolmabahce, Sisli and Okmeydani. 

Turkey's capital Ankara also saw protests on Saturday at the city's main square, Kizilay.

Several groups and NGOs gathered in Kizilay and blocked the traffic. A total of 45 protesters were detained at the end of the day.

There were also protests in Turkey's third largest city Izmir during which 65 suspects were taken into custody, as Governor Mustafa Toprak wrote on his official Twitter account.

"Terrorizing streets"

The demonstrations which were called for to mark the first anniversary of the Gezi Park protests aim to set streets on fire and to exploit each and every incident, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.

In his televised address to the nation, Erdogan said the Turkish state and people had no patience left for these people who are "devoted to violence."

“As you know, they first held Gezi Park demonstrations, and this was followed by the December 17 operation. Now they intend to repeat the same old scenario to overwhelm streets of Istanbul with violence. This is an act of terrorizing the streets to destroy our peace and tranquility.”

 The Taksim Solidarity -- an umbrella group of protesters -- has called for a rally in Taksim near the Gezi Park, a leafy park in the heart of the city.

“Our nation preserved its patience, commonsense and honor throughout the year and it will definitely be the same today or tomorrow," Erdogan said.

The Gezi Park protests began as a small environmental demonstration on May 31, 2013, and turned into nationwide anti-government demonstrations. The protests erupted after the government moved to implement a redevelopment plan for nearby Taksim Square which reportedly included replacing part of Gezi Park with a mall. 

The presidential elections

Regarding the presidential election due on August 10, Erdogan said, “Neither the election nor the period afterwards will create any weakness or uncertainty. It will strengthen Turkey."

“Turkey is proceeding to future with hope, confidence, peace and fraternity. We will not allow the puppets left in the streets by the enemies of Turkey to once again harm this peace and stability. They tried to take us back to 1960 with the Gezi Park incidents."

On May 27, 1960, Turkey's military overthrew then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was executed in September 1961.  

Referring to May 13's coal mine disaster in western Turkey, Erdogan reaffirmed that possible faults, negligence and discrepancies would be investigated and necessary action would be taken.

"We are increasing measures to avoid such calamities and will enhance our laws and inspections," he said.

The disaster claimed 301 workers' lives.


Last Mod: 01 Haziran 2014, 09:37
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