Turkish police break up women’s protest with rubber bullets

Turkish riot police use rubber pellets to disperse demonstrators during a protest ahead of the International Women's Day, in Istanbul, Turkey March 6, 2016. © Osman Orsal
Turkish police clashed with female protesters to disperse hundreds of people, rallying for women’s rights in Istanbul ahead of International Women’s Day. They fired rubber bullets and arrested at least one female activist.

The protest on Sunday gathered in response to an order from the governor of Istanbul, who banned the annual March 8 rally citing security concerns. Hundreds of women filled the square in the Kadikoy district on the Asian side of Istanbul chanting slogans and carrying banners.

Sporadic skirmishes between the demonstrators and plainclothes police erupted on several occasions, Reuters reported. Riot police armed with plastic shields used rubber bullets to disperse the gathering.

Similar clashes were reported in the capital Ankara, where dozens of women took to the streets.

Activists vouching for women’s rights criticize the Turkish government for failings on issues, such as eradicating domestic violence and gender inequality at work.

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Earlier on Saturday, Turkish police used tear gas on crowds protesting outside the offices of the Zaman newspaper, which was raided by police on Friday.

The popular newspaper, which often criticized the government, was targeted after a court ruled that it should be seized and its management replaced as part of an investigation into the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey accuses him of conspiring to overthrow the government.