Turkish riot police have fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse about 3,000 demonstrators who tried to enter a park adjacent to Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the heart of recent protests against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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 that any such gathering would be confronted by the police.
“Parks are not places for protests. They must serve as a place of calm and tranquility for all people,” Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said.
The protesters, however, attempted to enter the park and were stopped by the police.
Protests over proposed redevelopment of the park had snowballed into massive protests that swept the nation last month.
Meanwhile, an amateur video showing two men armed with machetes attacking protesters who were fleeing from the tear gas has emerged hours after the police intervention.
One of the men was seen kicking a woman on her back while holding a machete in his hand.
|Video was filmed in Talimhane area near Taksim Square
The video has since gone viral and Mutlu said the two men had been arrested.
“Our police will continue to do its duty with carefulness and rigour against such attacks,” the governor wrote on Twitter, as security forces were criticised for not intervening to prevent the machete-wielding attackers.
Protesters on Saturday were seen holding up copies of a recent court order which cancelled the redevelopment plan for the park.
Authorities can appeal against the court ruling, which was considered a victory for the protesters and a blow to Erdogan.
Four people were killed and about 7,500 wounded in the police crackdown on the protests that the park redevelopment triggered, according to the Turkish Medical Association.