Photo: EPA
Water cannons in Istanbul
Photo: EPA

Turkish police fire teargas to disperse Istanbul protesters

Police fire teargas, water cannon to disperse protesters in Gezi Park Saturday; governor of Istanbul warns any gathering would be confronted by police

Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse a few thousand protesters in a central Istanbul square on Saturday as they gathered to enter a park that was the center of anti-government protests last month.


The Taksim Solidarity Platform, combining an array of political groups, had called for a march to enter the sealed off Gezi park, but the governor of Istanbul warned any such gathering would be confronted by the police. 


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A police crackdown on a group protesting against the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park, a leafy corner of Taksim, triggered a nationwide wave or protest last month against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, accused by his critics of becoming increasingly authoritarian after a decade in power.


Istanbul, Saturday (Video: Reuters)    (צילום: רויטרס)

Istanbul, Saturday (Video: Reuters)


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Turkish Halk TV footage showed protesters at Taksim square, standing in front of riot police displaying a court decision on cancellation of plans for a replica Ottoman-era barracks on Istanbul's Taksim Square. The plan is backed by Erdogan.

המים לא הכניעו את המפגינים   (צילום: EPA)

Water cannons used on protestors (Photo: EPA)


Authorities can appeal against the court ruling, which was considered a victory for the protesters and a blow for Erdogan, who stood fast against protests and riots he said were stoked by terrorists and looters.


Four people were killed and some 7,500 wounded in the police crackdown, according to the Turkish Medical Association. It largely ended when police cleared a protest camp on the square on June 15.


Istanbul's Governor Huseying Avni Mutlu warned Saturday that a planned gathering by protesters at the city's landmark Taksim Square is illegal, as authorities had not given permission for the rally, and that police would disperse participants.

ההמונים חוזרים למחות באיסטנבול  (צילום: EPA)

Authorities use water cannons against Istanbul crowds (Photo: EPA)


"Our constitution allows staging demonstrations without giving notification, but the legislation says that applying to the authorities for permission is mandatory," Mutlu said, announcing on his twitter account that the Gezi Park would be open to public on Sunday.


"I cannot act against the law. So we won't allow these gatherings."


Gov. Mutlu's warning came hours before protesters were expected to converge on the square, intending to forcibly enter the nearby Gezi Park whose redevelopment plans sparked anger and morphed into nationwide anti-government protests in June.


Gezi Park has been cordoned off since June 15, when police routed environmentalists who occupied it amid the widespread protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. His opponents say he has become increasingly authoritarian since coming to power a decade ago.


The protests have now dwindled although thousands of demonstrators have been gathering at Taksim every Saturday for the past three weeks, demanding justice for a protester who was killed by police fire.


Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of organizations representing protesters, called for Saturday's rally at the square to serve notice to authorities of a court decision that has annulled the redevelopment plans and then attempt to break through the police cordon.


An Istanbul court in June rule against plans that included building a replica Ottoman-era barracks at Gezi. The court's decision however, is not final and is expected to be appealed at a higher administrative court.


Mutlu has said the protest is unauthorized and warned that police would intervene. He also said authorities planned to reopen the park on Sunday or Monday.


AP and Reuters contributed to this report.



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פרסום ראשון: 07.06.13, 19:36
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