Turkish police fire tear gas to prevent Istanbul rally
Hundreds forced to leave before start of protest organised by Taksim Solidarity group
Riot police use a water cannon to disperse protesters in central Istanbul yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Murad Sezer
Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon yesterday at protesters who tried to defy a closure order and enter an Istanbul park at the centre of protests against prime minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
Gezi Park was only open for a few hours after Istanbul’s governor allowed people back in, following often violent protests last month against plans to redevelop the area, when riot police ordered it shut ahead of a planned rally.
Hundreds of people were forced to leave before the start of the protest organised by the Taksim Solidarity group of political parties and non-governmental organisations opposed to the redevelopment.
Police then intervened with water cannon to break up a crowd of several thousand marching along Istanbul’s main pedestrian shopping street towards Taksim Square where the park is located, before firing teargas to break up smaller pockets of protesters.
After a police crackdown on a small demonstration on May 31st, the Gezi Park protests grew into broader action against what critics see as Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian style of government.
The unrest died down in late June, but on Saturday police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse protesters who again sought to march on Taksim Square.
The protests have been unprecedented in Erdogan’s rule, which began in 2002 with the election of his AK Party.
He has pressed significant reforms in the economy and curtailed the power of a military that had toppled four governments in four decades.– (Reuters)