Taksim Flower Protest
ISTANBUL – Turkish riot police fired water cannons, teargas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of anti-government demonstrators in Istanbul on Saturday, while Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan criticized the protesters for having “played into the hands of Turkey’s enemies.”
Protesters in Taksim brought flowers to commemorate those who have died during the protests, and clash with police who respond with clubs, tear gas water cannons and rubber bullets. This latest episode of unrest which took place within Turkey’s largest metropolitan city ended six days of relative peace, although it paled in comparison with previous clashes which took place there and in other cities spanning the course of the past three weeks ago.
People living around the square have been reported banging pots and pans as a sign of solidarity while demonstrators shouted “Police, do not betray your people!” Witnesses have also said that police used teargas to disperse protesters in nearby streets during confrontations and clashes.
During these clashes, many unarmed protesters tried to stop an advancing water cannon truck – even to the point of attempting to hold it back with their arms whilst another protester tossed a handful of carnations at the driver. Across the square, a tearful and angry woman asked the police why they were attacking the peaceful protesters yet again, while officers dismissed her please – and even pushed her aside with extreme force. Another man attempted to stand still, employing a new tactic which the protesters had adopted, but riot police pushed him to the ground with their shields – with one of them proceeding to beat him with theirs whenever he attempted to stand up again.
Taksim Square had been peaceful about half an hour prior to this. However, a huge crowd had eventually massed carrying red carnations in memory of at least four people killed in the protests so far. In a good-natured protest they had chanted, “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance,” and called on Mr Erdogan’s government to resign.
They proceeded to throw their carnations in the air in answer to the brutal crackdown on earlier protests. Some protesters even carried Brazilian flags in solidarity with the protests that have been taking place across Brazil. Unfortunately, this peaceful demonstration did not last for very long. Over a loudspeaker, the police said that they had made their point and ordered them to disperse. Shortly after this, the police began to form and advance in lines, forcing the protesters back across the square while water cannons fired into the crowd.
This did not deter the protesters, for they kept returning to the square until a standoff ensued at the junction of Istiklal Street. Police fired huge amounts of tear gas into the narrow streets, until large clouds engulfed the area. There have also been reports of police shooting rubber bullets into the crowds.
Taksim Square has been the cradle of protests triggered when police used force to remove a group of eco-activists opposed government plans to develop Gezi Park, a green space in central Istanbul which adjoins Taksim. These protests quickly developed into a much broader demonstration of dissent against the government, specifically Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whom protesters say is an authoritarian leader that is increasingly meddling in their everyday lives.
Posted on 06/23/2013, in istanbul, news, politics, protest, stories, turkey and tagged erdogan, flowers, istanbul, occupygezi, occupyturkey, protest, taksim, turkey. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.