Ten people were injured today in a violent crack-down from the Turkish police after hundreds of protesters camped out for several days at a park in downtown Istanbul opposed the destruction of a public park.
The riots police units used excessive amount of tear gas to remove early-morning protesters from Geza Park, Taksim Square. As a consequence, one protester suffered from heart attack and lost his life after being hospitalized. Meanwhile, a second protester died after being run over by a police panzer. Fear is also expressed that the death toll may increase. Unconfirmed reports claim that almost four people died.
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People from of all ages, expressed their disagreement with the demolition of buildings and uprooting of some 600 trees that form the lung on that side of town. Ottoman military barracks will be restored also in this place in order to build a large shopping center. Also, a scaffold collapsed during the violent police intervention injuring ten protesters.
The park was built in 1940, narrowed gradually from the luxury hotels that were built around it. The municipality of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, with 15 million inhabitants, which is controlled by the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party, assured that trees will be uprooted and replanted elsewhere.
Protesters made urgent calls for citizens who live abroad to spread the news, as there is internet blockage in the area of Taksim square. Below is their statement that has been circulated through the social media:
Attention! Turkish democracy needs you!
After a series of peaceful demonstrations for preserving a recreational area in Istanbul city centre, which is planned to be demolished for the construction of a shopping mall, Turkish police attacked the protesters violently with tear gas and water cannon, directly targeting their faces and bodies. Dozens of protesters are hospitalized and access to the park is blocked without any legal basis. Turkish media, directly controlled by the government or have business and political ties with it, refuse to cover the incidents. Press agencies also blocked the information flow.
Please share this message for the world to become aware of the police state created by AKP of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which is often considered to be a model for other Middle Eastern countries. Turkish democracy expects your help. Thank you!
Find the statement here in more languages.
According to Hurriyet: “Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said a total of 12 protesters had been injured in the crackdown.”
On Monday, when excavators “invaded” the area, residents, park enthusiasts and environmentalist activists safeguarded the space, supported by opposition MPs who confronted the police, arguing that the works are illegal.
Hurriet, also, reports that protests been taking place since May 26 while the police forces have many times attempted to suppress the crowds, conducting a dawn raid similar to the one conducted on May 30.
Amnesty International has condemned “the use of excessive force, including pepper spray, against peaceful protestors in a park in central Istanbul.”
Live updates from Istanbul