Turkish police fire tear gas at protesters in Istanbul

Eurasia News

Istanbul: Turkish police have fired tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters who gathered at Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The Dispatch News Desk (DND) reported.

Police on Monday used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at the crowds, who were trying to enter Istanbul’s Gezi Park, which has been at the heart of weeks of anti-government protests. The protest came after Istanbul’s governor announced the reopening of Gezi Park earlier in the day but warned he would not allow it to become a point for more demonstrations or occupation. Police sealed off access to the central Taksim Square and re-closed the park later in the day.

Gezi Park, at Istanbul’s landmark Taksim Square, had been cordoned off since June 15, when police routed thousands of environmentalists who occupied it in protest against a redevelopment plan which involved the demolition of the Park.

The Turkish protesters said Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul’s last public green spaces.

The protests soon spread to other cities across the country and turned into calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had strongly backed the project. Erdogan opponents say he has become increasingly authoritarian since coming to power a decade ago.

Several people have been killed in the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, who Erdogan has described as foreign-backed extremists and terrorists.