Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon in Ankara’s Kizilay Square to stop a memorial demonstration for an activist fatally shot in the head during protests. As police clashed with the hundreds-strong crowd a ban on downtown protests was announced.
About a thousand demonstrators gathered at the square in the center of the Turkish capital on Sunday, blocking two busy boulevards.
The protesters were
waiting for the funeral procession for Ethem Sarisuluk, a
26-year-old activist who was shot in the head during
demonstrations in Ankara on June 1 in support of Istanbul’s Gezi
Park. Following two weeks on life support, Sarisuluk was declared
Ethem Sarısülük evinin onünden gecirilecek. Yuruyus... pic.twitter.com/M4aiVR3s6R— BanuGuven (@banuguven) June 16, 2013
The demonstrators, who believe the bullet that killed Sarisuluk was fired by a policeman, were chanting anti-government slogans, when scores of the police backed by riot control vehicles entered the square.
Many demonstrators have brought flowers – red carnations – to commemorate the protester shot at Kizilay.
The police waited until the funeral convoy arrived to the scene,
stopping it, the witnesses tweeted.
The deceased’s family and a deputy of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) tried to negotiate with the police to let the procession through, but were not allowed into the square, according to Hurriyet.
The cortege was then told to turn back from where it started, and
the procession had to leave.
After repeatedly demanding to clear the square, the police then cracked down on the demonstrators, firing tear gas and high-pressure water. Armored police vehicles were backing the raid and making “dangerous driving maneuvers” and “putting lives of people at the square in danger.”
Following at least three separate interventions, the square was covered by clouds of tear gas.
Protesters then clashed with the police on the side streets surrounding Kizilay, with reports of dozens of injured appearing on Twitter.
The Ankara governor’s office on Sunday said it is banning any downtown demonstrations from June 16, and threatened protesters with immediate police intervention and prosecution in court.
“From June 16, any demonstrations, marches or other actions may not be held in the central streets of Ankara… Otherwise, security forces will be used to halt rallies and legislative measures will be applied against the organizers of these actions and their participants,” the statement on the governor’s office website said.
Meanwhile in Istanbul, riot police fired sporadic bursts of tear gas to prevent the demonstrators from regrouping. Protesters’ tents and barricades were removed in Taksim Square and Gezi Park overnight ahead of the massive pro-government rally in the city’s largest square, Kazlıcesme.
Istanbul’s Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu on Sunday stressed that protesters would not be allowed to gather in Taksim Square.
“There is a call to gather in Taksim at 4pm [13:00 GMT]. Any call for Taksim will not contribute to peace and security. After the current environment becomes stable, they can continue exercising their democratic rights. Under current circumstances we will not allow any gathering,” Mutlu told reporters.
The situation in Istanbul is mostly peaceful, and there are no major clashes in the city center, the governor claimed.
bu nasıl bir şeydir ? Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey 16-06-2013 pic.twitter.com/Yuj3jYg6t6— Sevinç Eratalay (@EratalaySevinc) June 16, 2013
However, the police continued to use tear gas against groups of protesters gathering in central districts of Istanbul to head for Taksim Square.
In the district of Shishli – some 2km from Taksim – a group of protesters built a barricade to halt police, but was dispersed by rounds of tear gas and took shelter in a nearby mall.
Earlier reports said the police have chased another group of about 100 protesters heading for Taksim into a mall in Mecidiyekoy, also in Shishli. The people shopping at the mall reportedly chanted anti-government slogans, protesting against the police intervention.
Mecidiyeköy'deki protestolar sırasında polis göstericilerin sığındığı Cevahir AVM'ye girdi, biber gazı sıktı. pic.twitter.com/tfCqS57yr6— CHP İstanbul (@CHP_istanbulil) June 16, 2013
The people cannot trust Turkish police and authorities after
Taksim Square, human rights activist Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci
“They excessively use violence and tear gas against medical
personnel and injured people, they target doctors who voluntarily
support the health units healing the injured,” she said.
Istanbul governor has confirmed on Sunday that some doctors have been detained by police.
“[The Turkish authorities] have negotiated with protesters but never kept their promises. Although they said they would keep [Gezi] park, they actually immediately abolished it. They have to keep their promises. We can never be sure that they are sincere,” the human rights activist stressed.