3,000 Protesters Try to March in Istanbul’s Taksim Square
Once again, thousands of protesters tried to mass in Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square over the weekend, and were stopped by police with water cannon and tear gas.
The weeks-long protests were ignited by a government plan to build a replica of an Ottoman-style barracks and a mall in the only green space left in the city – Gezi Park. But the plan has since been scrapped, and the government has compromised on protesters’ demands.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials have long said the ongoing demonstrations are in fact being fueled by something more.
Depending on who is making the claim, reasons cited range from fighting the Islamist government’s increasing pressure against the secularist cultural style encouraged by the previous administration, to a “foreign plot” by subversives bent on destroying the tranquility of Turkish society.
Regardless, protesters now organized by “Taksim Solidarity” again gathered Saturday night and planned to march through central Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square to Gezi Park, according to the BBC.
“We are going to our park to open its doors to its real owners,” the protesters told reporters. “We are here and we will stay here... we have not given up our demands,” the group said in a statement.
They were blocked by police who were ordered out in force by Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the Hurriyet daily newspaper reported.
International journalists reported they were chased down side streets by police. The protesters chanted, “Together against fascism,” and “Everywhere is resistance.” Dozens were detained. A parallel protest took place in Ankara as well.
“The Constitution says anyone can stage a demonstration without giving notification, but the legislation says that applying to the authorities for permission is mandatory,” the Istanbul governor said at a news conference. “So no one can say they exercised their constitutional rights. This is unlawful,” he said.