Across Turkey, witnesses are reporting a disproportionate response by police to the protests, which in most instances begun peacefully. At least 2 people have reportedly been killed, over 1,700 detained across the country and hundreds have been injured.
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Most of the injuries were sustained near Taksim Square in Istanbul, the focal point of the recent protest.
Massive demonstrations from last night are currently continuing in the streets, with the metropolis of Istanbul witnessing cases of vandalism. Rallies kicked off on Friday: authorities decided to cut the trees in Geza Park, and people took to the streets to protest.
“The latest expression of public anger is unprecedented in character. Unlike previous anti-government rallies and demonstrations, people are protesting wherever they are, including banging pots in their homes regardless of the time,” journalist Mahir Zeynalov writes in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
Erdogan commented on the current events stressing that protestors should go home. “If you bring 100,000, I’ll bring out a million,” he threatened. The leader also vowed to rebuild the Ottoman barracks. However, he warned police against using excessive force.
The protest spread to 50 provinces in the last three days. Up to 1,700 people have been detained across the country as part of “necessary security measures,” Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said. Most of them were released after being identified and questioned.
The capital, Ankara, has been engulfed by the anti-government protests, too, the activists say. And they don’t really understand why the police crackdown is so violent.
“People in Geza Park were just sitting there, and police started firing at their tents, which were in the park, so we don’t really understand why they used such force and why they are so angry,” activist Seda Guner indicated to RT.
Police overkill in Izmir, Ankara – witnesses to RT
Similar demonstrations have flared up around the country, including in Izmir and the capital, Ankara, despite a court decision temporarily to halt demolition of the park.
Izmir, on Turkey’s western coast, is usually a peaceful city and is not used to violence, Ayberg Yagiz, a product designer, says.
“We were standing there just protesting, singing some songs, like ‘Tayyip Resign’, when the police started firing at us with teargas and pepper gas. They were using their pepper gas rifles as a weapon. They aimed at us protesters, they aimed at me but they missed,” he told RT.
Yagiz explained that exactly the same thing happened in Ankara during protests when he was there two days ago. The protester wanted to make clear that many of his friends took part in the protests and that they were not what he would consider to be typical ‘protesters’ but are businessmen, actors and musicians.