“Every place is Taksim, every place resistance,” the protesters chanted.
Turkish riot police have moved into Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which has been occupied by anti-government protesters for close to two weeks.Officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets, leading many protesters to flee the square into adjoining Gezi Park, where many have been camping.
The move into the square by police comes after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to meet the protest organisers on Wednesday. With total cynicism the police appealed to the crowds ”not to attack them” as they themselves attacked with tear gas and smashed down barricades.
Incredibly the police chief claimed they had only come to remove a banner from the statue of Ataturk.
Backed by armoured vehicles, officers wearing helmets and carrying shields gathered around the square early on Tuesday before moving past barricades erected by protesters. They removed protesters’ banners which had been hung from a building overlooking the square.
Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said the police had no intention of breaking up the protest in Gezi Park.
“Our aim is to remove the signs and pictures on Ataturk statue and the Ataturk Cultural Centre. We have no other aim,” he wrote on Twitter. “Gezi Park and Taksim will not be touched.” A similar message was broadcast by police via loudspeaker, but protesters in the square said they did not believe this.
SOLIDARITY APPEAL #turkishrevolution The platform of groups participating in the Taksim Square Occupation are calling for worldwide support and solidarity as they are again attacked, beaten, gassed, arrested and killed by State forces
The BBC’s Mark Lowen, who is in the square, says this was a deliberate show of force that may jeopardise Wednesday’s talks.
The demonstrations are now in their 12th day, with activists controlling much of Taksim Square. The unrest was sparked after police moved to suppress environmental protests over the redevelopment of Gezi Park on 31 May.
Three people have died and more than 5,000 have been injured since the protests began.
The attack seems designed to intimidate and show Erdogan to be a macho hero to his supporters, while cleaning the Gezi park still occupied, for fear of the giant mass protests against him.
AKP party plans curb on Twitter
The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) has vowed to begin censoring Twitter in an effort to curb “dangerous” slander, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports. It quotes Ali Şahin, the AKP’s vice chairman of media, as saying: ”A tweet containing lies and slander is much more dangerous than a vehicle loaded with a bomb. The explosion of a vehicle loaded with a bomb would be limited, but a tweet filled with lies and slander can lead to a climate of conflict. If the situation is serious, necessary precautions must be taken.” Last week the prime minister, Erdogan, branded Twitter a menace to society.