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Police and protesters clash in Istanbul

Clashes come as protesters attempt Taksim Square entry, as PM supporters set to rally in the same city.

Last Modified: 16 Jun 2013 15:05
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Protesters were forcibly evicted from Taksim Square in Istanbul by riot police late on Saturday night [Reuters]

Clashes have taken place between police and anti-government protesters in streets leading to a central square in Istanbul, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepares for a show of strength in a rally organised by his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

Thousands of protesters have been trying to reach Taksim Square on Sunday after overnight police intervention at an Istanbul park where anti-government protests were first ignited more than two weeks ago.

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Riot police fired bursts of tear gas and water cannon on Sunday after a night of unrest to try to prevent demonstrators from regrouping and keep them away from Taksim Square, where Gezi Park is located.

Bulldozers removed barricades and municipal workers swept the streets around the central Taksim Square, sealed off by police, after thousands took to the streets overnight following the raid on the park.

Throughout the night, police forces have entered hotels and other buildings harbouring injured protesters in Istanbul, using tear gas inside buildings and detaining demonstrators.  

There have been rallies and clashes in cities such as capital Ankara, Izmir, Eskisehir, Bursa, Antalya and Adana following police’s intervention in Gezi Park in Saturday evening.

Hundreds of police officers have poured into Istanbul in order to work around Taksim Square and Kazlicesme, where the pro-government rally will take place.

‘No access to Taksim Square’

Meanwhile, Istanbul's governor said on Sunday that the planned gathering by an anti-government protest group in Taksim Square would not be allowed to go ahead.

"There is a call for gathering in Taksim at 4:00pm [local time; 13:00GMT]," Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters. "Any call for Taksim will not contribute to peace and security. After the current environment becomes stable, they can continue exercising their democratic rights. Under current circumstances we will not allow any gathering."

Mutlu said two police officers were shot during Saturday’s riots by live ammunition, adding that they are in good condition.

He also confirmed the reports that doctors helping protesters were arrested. "Yes, doctors have been arrested but they are acting in conjunction with the protesters," he said.

He also rejected reports claiming that water sprayed from water cannon at protesters contained any additional chemicals.

Pro-Erdogan rally in Istanbul

Meanwhile, Erdogan is to deliver a speech at a political rally in the Kazlicesme district of Istanbul, about 10km away from the square.


In an AK Party rally in Ankara on Saturday, Prime Minister Erdogan issued a Sunday deadline for those occupying the park to leave or face eviction.

He also accused "a network of treachery" of being responsible for the unrest that has gripped the country for more than two weeks.

Erdogan said that the protests are not about the environment, as those in Taksim Square say, but are part of a plot "coordinated inside and outside" Turkey.

"I will reveal this network of treachery with the documents proving [it]," he added.

In Ankara, police forces have prevented a large group of people from entering capital Ankara’s central Kizilay Square. Water cannon and tear gas have been used by riot police against protesters.

The group was trying to enter the square following protester Ethem Sarisuluk's funeral in order to commemorate him where he died.

The government says the demonstrators are being manipulated by illegal groups seeking to sow instability while the movement says that the government has been acting increasingly authoritarian.

Turkey has been in turmoil since late May after a sit-in protest against an urban development project at Gezi Park of Istanbul transformed into countrywide anti-government demonstrations.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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