Turkey: Riot Police Storm Taksim Square

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Police storm Taksim Square with heavy use of tear gas and water cannons

Police storm Taksim Square with heavy use of tear gas and water cannons. Still from RT video

After nearly two weeks of peaceful anti-government protests in Turkey, riot police have stormed the focal point of the demonstrations – Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

With the support of armoured vehicles and water cannons, riot police carrying shields surrounded Taksim Square this morning before moving in to pull down barricades erected by protesters. They also removed protest banners from overlooking buildings, and replaced them with the national flag and a portrait of Kemal Atatürk, the father of the modern Turkish state.

Turkish riot police, who have previously been criticized for their violence and heavy-handed tactics, again fired tear gas, “sound bombs”, and rubber bullets at the crowds causing caused many of the protesters to flee the square into the adjoining Gezi Park. A small group of protesters, although “no body knows who they are“, have responded by throwing fireworks and stones at police. Some protesters believe that these handful of protesters using molotov cocktails are working with the government to make the protesters appear violent, with the Turkish media following the protests for the first time after a self-censored media blackout up until this point.

Speaking about the small group throwing molotov cocktails at police, one protester told us:

About 30 provocateurs who are NOT among us, NOT activists, NOT among the people who resist started attacking the police with molotov cocktails. Curiously enough the “Tomas” (water cannon vehicles) that are able to push away and separate hundreds of people within seconds (as we have seen many times in the two weeks) could not get rid of this group of provocateurs for over an hour now. Why? This is all a planned game to be played in front of the international media. The resisting people are still peaceful, they do not throw stones or molotov cocktails!

The majority peaceful protesters stood arm in arm as the riot police moved in with riot gas and water cannons

https://twitter.com/ILoveArctic/status/344403476308164608

This move came in contrast to the comments of Istanbul Governer Huseyin Avni Mutlu who had previously said the police had no intention of breaking up the protest. Nevertheless, Erdogan defended the police intervention in the Turkish Parliament today saying:

“What did the protesters expect? That we would kneel down before them?”

Coinciding with the move on protesters in Taksim Square, police also moved on the courthouse, attempting to arrest the lawyers who were working with the protesters. Some reports are stating that up to 50 lawyers have been arrested.

This video shows the lawyers being forcibly removed from the courthouse:

The demonstrations began to protest against the building of a shopping mall on one of Istanbul’s last green spaces, Gezi Park.. As police attempted to suppress the protesters with violence, tear gas, and pepper spray, the protests evolved to oppose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government’s authoritarian style, the perceived Islamisation of the secular country, and the crackdown on free speech. These renewed protests spreading to many other towns and cities across the country, most notably the capital Ankara.

Vice journalist Tim Pool is broadcasting live from the protests:

Location

6 Comments

  1. This morning hundreds of police and water cannon vehicles marched into Taksim. There has been a peaceful environment for 10 days there. This morning at 7:30 people were still sleeping in their tents or having breakfast. When the police attacked with gas bombs a group of about 30 provocators who are NOT activists and NOT among the people who resist started attacking the police with molotov cocktails. Curiously enough the TOMAs (water cannon vehicles) that are able to push away and separate hundreds of people within seconds (as we have seen many times in the two weeks) could not get rid of this group of provocators for over an hour now. Why?

    The resisting people are still peaceful, they do not throw stones or molotov cocktails!!!

  2. Cant stand websites that start blasting videos as soon as they load. No thanks.

    • You're an Idiot on

      Nice job completely ignoring the point. Turkish citizens are concerned about governments blasting away their rights, but no; you’re offended by a live stream that starts when you load a webpage.

  3. Correction: the last name of the father of modern Turkey is spelled “Atatürk”

    It’s ironic that the riot police put up pictures of Atatürk, because their leader PM Ergodan is going against what the country’s founder stood for. A free, open, democratic, secular nation.

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