21st Mar 2019

Turkish police clash with Taksim protestors

Turkish riot police pummeled protestors with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons in Istanbul’s Taksim square into the early hours of Wednesday (12 June) as unrest deepens over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strong-arm tactics to stamp out the demonstrations.

The 13-day stand-off has left some 5,000 injured and four dead in what started off as a peaceful demonstration against a shopping centre project in central Istanbul.

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  • Turkish police fire tear gas to clear demonstrators from Taksim square in central Istanbul. (Photo: Ester Karadag)

The sit-in quickly spiralled into a wider protest over what many Turks see as Erdogan’s uncompromising grip on power.

On Tuesday, Erdogan once again struck a defiant tone. He accused the protesters - which had swelled to around 30,000 people - of “being used by some financial institutions, the interest rate lobby and media groups to [harm] Turkey's economy and [scare away] investments,” reports Reuters.

By Wednesday morning, the bulldozers had swept away the tents and debris from the square.

Erdogan has called the protestors capulcu or looters, but those demonstrating say they have been doing so peacefully.

A Turkish paleontology graduate student in Instanbul told this reporter via Facebook on Tuesday that people were still sleeping in their tents or having breakfast in the early morning before the blue and white helmeted riot police attacks started.

“When the police attacked with gas bombs a group of about 30 provocateurs who are not among us, not activists, not among the people who resist, started attacking the police with Molotov cocktails,” he noted.

“This is all a planned game to be played in front of the international media,” he said.

Parallel protests in Ankara the same day were equally met with police force.

Meanwhile, Erdogan is set to meet some of the Taksim protestors this week to discuss the shopping centre construction project.

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