Turkey in the ledge of anti-government crackdown

The Turkish police’s crackdown targeting the demonstrators protesting the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park continued on June 1, as clashes broke out in Istanbul’s symbolic Istiklal Avenue and the Beşiktaş district...
The Turkish police’s crackdown targeting the demonstrators protesting the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park continued on June 1, as clashes broke out in Istanbul’s symbolic Istiklal Avenue and the Beşiktaş district on the European side of the city.

Vedat Xhymshiti | between THE frontlines

Security forces used tear gas and water cannons this morning to quell protesters who had gathered on İstiklal Avenue, as well as its sidestreets. When the police fired the water and gas, protesters tried to escape from the narrow streets leading to the Cihangir neighborhood.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 protesters gathered again after the police’s first intervention. However police fired once again, entering the pedestrian street with a water cannon riot vehicle. Some protesters made barricades with trees and bins about 100 meters from Saint Anthony’s Church, near Galatasaray Square. Around an hour later the police destroyed the barricade and protesters escaped into side streets.

Despite the repeated police interventions, the numbers gathered at the protests only increased. Protesters chanted slogans against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling on the government to resign.
Most shops did not open after the violence of the previous day, and one of the busiest streets of Istanbul looked completely paralyzed on a Saturday.

Crowds also crossed the Bosphorus Bridge to the European side in the early morning hours of June 1, seeking to reach Taksim Square. However, their route was blocked by police who again fired tear gas and water cannon near the Beşiktaş district.

The heart of Istanbul’s entertainment area had turned into a battlefield during the late hours of May 31, as security forces staged a merciless crackdown on peaceful protesters who were gathered to denounce the brutal dawn raid against demonstrators occupying Gezi Park.

Major connections leading to Taksim – Sıraselviler, Tarlabaşı, Harbiye and Beşiktaş – as well as İstiklal Avenue were all blocked by the riot police, who fired tear gas without making any distinction between protesters and locals. Two choppers were also circling the skies in the area, while ambulances continuously brought new patients to the hospitals. Dozens of protestors were reported injured by witnesses. Several hotels around the Taksim area provided support to the injured or those who suffered respiratory problems due to tear gas.

The number of protesters in Istanbul taken into custody has grown to 138 on June 1, police have said.

Some residents in the area banged pots and pans from their homes to protest the government over the crackdown and express support for the protesters in the streets.

Meanwhile İbrahim Kalın, the adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said in his twitter account today that İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş and representatives from Taksim Gazi Park Platform and the Chamber of Architects would meet today and discuss a joint-solution.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey does not want to experience the Germany of 40’s in 2013, while responding to journalists in Ankara, before moving to Istanbul for a scheduled public meeting in Istanbul’s Kadıköy today. 

The CHP’s Istanbul meeting will start at 4 p.m. Today and is expected to net a large crowd upon the party’s call last week. 

The protesters, who started their mobilization to raise awareness on the demolition of one of the city’s last remaining green areas, started chanting for the resignation of the Turkish P
rime Minister 
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the police’s relentless tear gas campaign.

Twelve protesters were injured during the morning raid, according to the Istanbul’s Governor’s Office. However, witnesses’ accounts put the number much higher.

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