Turkish Police Push Into Square Near Park Protest

Posted by Natali-Stefanova-816 on Jun. 12, 2013

Turkish Police Push Into Square Near Park Protest ISTANBUL — Riot police officers moved into Taksim Square in central Istanbul on Tuesday, firing tear gas grenades and water cannons and enveloping the center of this city with smoke and the sounds of ambulance sirens. The square, which has become a sprawling and eclectic hub of grievance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was transformed into a tableau of urban chaos. The operation took all day and was still in progress as the workday ended, when more protesters began reoccupying the square and police officers cleared it again with tear gas. The scene took on the air of a movie set- fireworks lit by protesters and nonlethal sound bombs set off by the police punctuated the chants of Istanbul is ours! Taksim is ours! At intervals during the day, the police would advance into part of the square, then retreat again to rest, as officers mingled with onlookers, smoked cigarettes or bought snacks from street vendors. Short outbursts of clashes with protesters alternated with intervals of calm, allowing onlookers and tourists to gather in relatively safe spots and watch the action unfold, and then flee down side streets when the tear gas became too thick. The police advance was far from decisive in quashing the protest movement that has risen to challenge the rule of Mr. Erdogan and his conservative Justice and Development Party, which has roots in political Islam- Gezi Park, whose preservation was the initial focus of the protests, was left alone to its occupiers, who have erected a tent city there and have vowed to stay. We are here for the park and the park only, said Murat Bal, 27, who stood in the edge of the park as other areas of Taksim Square were being tear-gassed. We will not yield to the provocation of stone throwers or police violence. We will stay in the park until the end. The ongoing crisis that has engulfed Mr. Erdogan's government and threatened to tarnish the image of Turkey as a rising power, which he has helped craft, played out in other venues simultaneously Tuesday- at an Istanbul courthouse, several lawyers who had supported the protesters were detained, and as tear gas filled Taksim Square, Mr. Erdogan addressed his party in a speech broadcast to the nation. Mr. Erdogan, in keeping with the defiant tone of his recent speeches, called the protest movement an uprising against the democratic administration. He described the banners of leftist groups that had decorated the sq...

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