Turkish police fire tear gas, water cannon at Gezi Park protesters (PHOTOS)
Turkish police have cleared Istiklal Avenue, firing water cannon and tear gas at hundreds of protesters as they gathered to march to Gezi Park. The park has been a cradle of anti-government unrest for weeks.
Demonstrators have been protesting against a recently imposed law which blocked the authority of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) from approving urban planning projects. They gathered at Istiklal Avenue to march to Gezi Park, which is located a short walking distance away.
The crowd was chanting anti-government slogans and screaming,
“This is just the beginning. The fight is continuing.”
As police approached the crowd and asked them to exit the area,
some of the protesters refused to leave the street. Riot police
then responded by using tear gas and water cannon.
Police blocked the entrance into Taksim Square, but some
protesters tried to break through and reach the area through
smaller nearby streets.
Witnesses say police also blocked the entrance to Taksim
Hospital. The entrance to Gezi Park has also been barricaded by
Police have reportedly used water cannon to shoot colored
chemicals in order to disperse protesters, according to locals.
Twitter user @TaksimGazete tweeted that police have pointed water
cannons at apartments located above the protests.
Many of those who left Istiklal Avenue have reportedly moved to another neighborhood near Taksim. Taksim Gazette says that people have managed to get into Gezi Park, where they are currently holding “forum meeting.”
TMMOB members also staged protests in Ankara on Saturday, with architects and engineers believing the bill – which was passed by parliament this week –to be part of a government vendetta.
Earlier, TMMOB opened a lawsuit against plans to redevelop
Istanbul's Gezi Park.
A court has since cancelled the redevelopment project, although
authorities can still appeal against the ruling.