Riot police have taken partial control of Taksim Square after entering the site around 7.30 a.m. today and surrounded the Atatürk Statue following use of tear gas and pressurized water on the protesters. It was the first time the police entered the square since they retreated from the venue on June 1.
The police removed the banners and flags hanging on the AKM cultural center and the Atatürk statue. Only a Turkish flag and an Atatürk poster remained on the AKM.
Police forces have also removed the barricades that had been built by protesters on the streets entering the Taksim area.
AT LEAST TWO INJURED
At least two people have been wounded in the clashes. One of the injured was unconscious, possibly passed out. A group of protesters attempted to build a buffer zone between the police and the clashing crowds to prevent either side from violence. An unidentified protester threw a Molotov cocktail at the buffer zone, however, a large number of protesters at the site claimed the Molotov-throwing protester was in fact an undercover cop.
Similar claims of undercover policemen inciting violence disguised as protesters have been surfacing all morning, with social media posts heavily accusing the government of attempting to delegitimize the protests.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS WERE ON THE SQUARE FOR FREEDOM
Hundreds of thousands of people flooded Taksim Square on Sunday, in response to the call of Taksim Solidarity, leading the 15 days old resistance in Gezi Park. Workers, supporters of life, artists, intellectuals, the religious, Turks, Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, socialists, women, men, LGBTs, youth, children, elderly, all sections of the population in opposition came to Taksim Square.
In response to the police attacks in Ankara, slogans of “Resist Ankara, Taksim is with you” were chanted during the rally. Cries of “resisting” followed the name of each town where protests were held. “Only slept for five hours in days. Subjected to pepper gas numerous times! They ask me whether I will save the country. Even if cannot save it, we’ll die trying”; the last post on social media by Abdullah Cömert – killed in a police attack – was also read to the rally.
The agreed statement read to the rally by architect Mücella Yapıcı said, “Not every word of the Prime Minister will be law. As the people who have managed this, we realise that we’ll stop those policies that serve the few that are driven by financial greed, that are anti-labour, anti-democratic, against arts and science”.
DEMANDS OF TAKSIM SOLIDARITY
These are the clear demands expressed by Taksim Solidarity:
– That Gezi Park stays as a park. That an official statement guaranteeing no planned development – whether called Topçu Kışlası or not – will be built on the park site is released and that the planned demolition o the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (AKM) is cancelled
– That all those responsible, starting with Taksim Gezi park, for preventing people’s democratic right to protest, that ordered the violent crack-down, that enforced and carried these orders, caused thousands of casualties and two fatalities are removed; primarily the Governors and Chief Constables in Istanbul, Ankara and Hatay
– That the use of pepper gas and the like are banned
– That all citizens taken into custody across the country are released immediately and given a guarantee that they will not be prosecuted
– That all squares – primarily the May-Day arenas of Taksim and Kızılay squares – and public spaces are again opened to meetings, rallies and activities and any barriers on freedom of speech are removed
ERDOĞAN HAS BRANDED THOSE ON THE STREETS ‘TERRORİSTS’
Prime Minister Erdoğan held rallies in Adana, Mersin and Ankara while hundreds of thousands were calling for the government’s resignation in Taksim. Erdoğan said “the interest lobby should sort itself out. This lobby has exploited my people’s hard work. They won’t be able to do it anymore. We have been patient. I’m talking to those banks and others that keep this lobby alive. You’ll pay heavily for starting this struggle against us. Those who shamelessly try to make the stock exchange collapse, Tayyip Erdoğan have no money in the stock market. Only you will be ruined. We never gave speculators a chance, and we won’t again. If we find you speculating we’ll throttle you. You will not be able to exploit this country any more. Those days are gone”.
ERDOĞAN DEFENDED THE POLICE VIOLENCE
Erdoğan also talked about the police violence that killed two and caused five thousand casualties. He defended the police thus: “This is the police of the people; they are from among the people. They struggle for order and safety among the people. Were we supposed to abandon the squares to anarchists? What are they fighting for? The police are fighting to defend us”.
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