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Police quell thousands of Turkish protesters

Security forces fire tear gas and water cannons on about 3,000 protesters trying to enter iconic Gezi Park in Istanbul.

Last Modified: 06 Jul 2013 20:51
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Four people were killed and about 7,500 wounded in the police crackdown on protests that began last month [AFP]

Turkish riot police have fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse about 3,000 demonstrators who tried to enter flashpoint protest spot Taksim Square in Istanbul.

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

"We intend to reopen Gezi Park on Sunday or Monday at the latest so that it is available for people to use," said Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu.

But, he continued, "parks are not places for protests. They must serve as a place of calm and tranquility for all people."

A statement from protest group Taksim Solidarity on Saturday said: "We are returning to our park to deliver the message to those who stopped us from accessing it that the courts have dropped a redevelopment project designed to rob the park of its identity, of its users and to turn it into concrete.

Redevelopment of Gezi Park

A police crackdown on a group protesting against the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park, a corner of Taksim, triggered a nationwide wave of protests last month against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seen by many as becoming increasingly authoritarian after a decade in power.

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

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

Four people were killed and about 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.

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