'Why were police so angry?': Turkish protesters slam police brutality, return to Taksim Square



Published time: June 02, 2013 12:42
Edited time: June 02, 2013 14:53

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Across Turkey, witnesses are reporting a disproportionate response by police to the protests, which in most instances begun peacefully. At least 2 people have reportedly been killed, up to 940 detained across the country and hundreds have been injured.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on the protests

Most of the injuries were sustained near Taksim Square in
Istanbul, the focal point of the recent protest. 

Massive demonstrations from last night are currently continuing
in the streets, with the metropolis of Istanbul witnessing cases
of vandalism. Rallies kicked off on Friday: authorities decided
to cut the trees in Geza Park, and people took to the streets to
protest. 

The latest expression of public anger is unprecedented in
character. Unlike previous anti-government rallies and
demonstrations, people are protesting wherever they are,
including banging pots in their homes regardless of the
time
,” journalist Mahir Zeynalov writes in the Turkish daily
Today’s Zaman.

Erdogan commented on the current events stressing that protestors
should go home. “If you bring 100,000, I’ll bring out a
million,”
he threatened. The leader also vowed to rebuild the
Ottoman barracks. However, he warned police against using
excessive force. 

Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party on June 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)


The protest spread to 50 provinces in the last three days. Up to
940 people have been detained across the country as part of
“necessary security measures,” Turkish Interior Minister
Muammer Güler said. 

The capital, Ankara, has been engulfed by the anti-government
protests, too, the activists say. And they don’t really
understand why the police crackdown is so violent.

“People in Geza Park were just sitting there, and police
started firing at their tents, which were in the park, so we
don’t really understand why they used such force and why they are
so angry,”
activist Seda Guner indicated to RT.

Similar demonstrations have flared up around the country,
including in Izmir and the capital, Ankara, despite a court
decision temporarily to halt demolition of the park.

Izmir, on Turkey’s western coast, is usually a peaceful city and
is not used to violence, Ayberg Yagiz, a product designer, says.

“We were standing there just protesting, singing some songs,
like ‘Tayyip Resign’, when the police started firing at us with
teargas and pepper gas. They were using their pepper gas rifles
as a weapon. They aimed at us protesters, they aimed at me but
they missed,”
he told RT.

Yagiz explained that exactly the same thing happened in Ankara
during protests when he was there two days ago. The protester
wanted to make clear that many of his friends took part in the
protests and that they were not what he would consider to be
typical ‘protesters’ but are businessmen, actors and
musicians.

A demonstrator sits on the ground after he was detained by riot police during an anti-government protest in Izmir, western Turkey, June 2, 2013. (Reuters)

In Izmir and Istanbul there was a lack of ambulances, despite a
large number of people being wounded, the protestor complained.
Yagiz explained how protesters forced one passing ambulance to
stop and found policemen concealed inside.

The protests in Izmir and Ankara have been woefully under-covered
by the Turkish media. In Ankara he said he saw one journalist
from Reuters, but at the Izmir protests he didn’t see any
journalists at all either from TV or the press.

Another Ankara resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, told
RT that police have started gathering in the street as more
protests are expected on Sunday afternoon. Recalling the Saturday
clashes, she described police actions as “horrible,”
saying that officers were shooting at people, without caring if
they were women, children or the elderly. Cafes and some other
public places were used as makeshift hospitals and medical
students volunteered to treat the injured. She also said that one
person was killed Saturday after being targeted by water
cannon.  

An injured demonstrator is helped during clashes between riot police and demonstrators in Ankara on June 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

In the meantime, protests spilled into the Turkish-controlled
part of Cyprus.

As Melis Tutan, a Cyprus-based journalist reports, pointed out to
RT, Turkish students started gathering on Saturday to protest the
events in Istanbul and express their concern over the policies of
the Erdogan government and what they describe as police terror.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Nicosia, Kyrenia,
Famagusta and Morphou, Tutan told RT.

“Many civil organizations and students walked together towards
the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia. At the beginning police tried to
stop them, but then they were allowed to chant slogans.”
  

A protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus on Saturday. (Photos by Seyhan Özmenek)

Solidarity protests were also staged or planned across Europe and
the US, with people in cities including Boston, London, Berlin,
Athens, Nicosia and Helsinki rallying against the violence in
Turkey. For instance, in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, hundreds
of Occupy movement supporters gathered for a solidarity
demonstration, and marched to the Turkish Consulate.

Turks also staged in front of the EU Parliament in Brussels to
protest the violence in Turkey, chanting anti-government slogans
and holding banners.

“This is not about a park. It’s about the abuse of state
power. It’s about media being censored. This is about
democracy,”
one of the banners held by demonstrators, read.

This article originally appeared on: RT