Photo: Sunday’s mass rally for Prime Minister Erdogan in Istanbul (Photo: Reuters)
Police again moved into Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Gezi Park — the focal points of 17 days of national demonstrations against the Erdogan Government — on Saturday night, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters.
The security forces attacked an hour after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan renewed his ultimatum to demonstrators evacuate Gezi Park, which the Government wants to re-develop with a replica Ottoman-era military barracks, before Sunday.
Police demolished tents, as injuries were reported and ambulances entered the park. They cordoned off nearby Taksim Square, which they had charged earlier this week, and tried to block protesters — in nearby roads and crossing the Bosphorus Bridge — from reaching the park.
Protesters on the Bosphorus Bridge:
— TUHAF AMA GERÇEK TAG (@TuhafAmaGercek) June 16, 2013
Ambulances also picked up wounded at Divan hotel, used by the protesters as a health centre from the beginning of the protests. Protesters sang the national anthem as they tried to prevent police tried to break the doors of the hotel and threw tear gas inside.
Police also fired tear gas at volunteer doctors, the General Secretary of the Turkish Medical Chamber said.
EA correspondent Ali Yenidunya has more on the Prime Minister’s address to a large rally this afternoon:
Erdogan continued the same rhetoric, saying this is a “big game” organised by the “dark hands” of external powers and their collaborators inside Turkey, with four foreigners arrested.
He said protesters are not honest in environmental concerns, and “their aim is to do what they could not Ballot boxes”.
Erdogan repeating, “This is the project of destabilisation of Turkey”, said: “Sme call me dictator. Excuse me, no one would allow you [protesters] there for 18 days. I listened to you, had meetings. Spent more time than I normally do for my Cabinet. You can’t find a Prime Minister like me.”
An opposition rally in Antakya:
— Gülsevin (@gulsein) June 16, 2013
Five major Turkish trade union federations have called a one-day strike for Monday.
The Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions (KESK), which has some 240,000 members in 11 unions, and the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions (DISK) announced the action. Three other groups representing doctors, engineers and dentists will also join, they said.
Hours after his police moved into Taksim Square and Gezi Park, clearing protesters, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a large crowd in Istanbul, not far from the focal points of the demonstrations against his Government.
The rally was a part of the ruling Justice and Development Party‘s official launch of the campaign for March 2014 local elections.
Erdogan said of the crowd, “These hundreds of thousands of people are not the ones who have burned and destroyed; these hundreds of thousands of people are not traitors like those who throw Molotov cocktails at my people. Whatever we do, we’ll remain within the frame of democracy and the rule of law. We have never pushed the limits of legality.”
He then upheld the operations of the security forces, who have moved into Taksim Square with tear gas and water cannon on several occasions this week and who swept through Gezi Park — which the Government hopes to re-develop, clearing away the green space — last night:
Now, Gezi Parkı has been cleared and handed back to its people. The municipality has cleared the park and renewed it with new flowers. Real environmatalists are at work now. Who is this environmentalist? The AK Party government.
I warn once again. They are making calls to unite at Taksim. I call for commonsense. My people: do not fall into this trap.
The Prime Minister denounced foreign coverage, “If the international media want a picture of Turkey, the picture is here. CNN, Reuters, BBC, hide this picture too, and go on with your lies.”
The Constitutional Court has ordered the dissolution of Parliament and called for fresh elections.
The court ruled as it dismissed opposition challenges to changes to the electoral system, made by the Emir last November.
The new voting rules, issued six weeks before Parliamentary elections, triggered mass protests. They included reduction of the number of votes allowed per citizen to one from four.
Protesters said the new rules aimed to weaken the opposition, which was able to form effective Parliamentary alliances under the old four-vote system in the absence of parties. The government said the new voting system brought Kuwait in line with other countries.
The crowd at the funeral of Ethem Sarisuluk — one of five deaths since mass protests began 31 May — who died from injuries suffered when he was hit by a tear gas canister:
Annesinin Ethem Sarısülük'e vedası pic.twitter.com/PyBjSdW5OW
— BanuGuven (@banuguven) June 16, 2013
Demonstrators have promised to rally in Istanbul’s Gezi Park at 4 p.m. local time (1300 GMT), defying last night’s police assault and Prime Minister Erdogan’s insistence that they evacuate the area.
The scene in the park at 3:18 p.m. (1218 GMT):
— 140journos (@140journos) June 16, 2013
The crowd gathering on Istiklal Street:
— Kemal ASLAN (@kemal_aslan) June 16, 2013
Almost a dozen bombings and a shooting have killed at least 30 and wounded scores across Iraq.
A bomb in a parked car was detonated early morning in the industrial area of the city of Kut, 160 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad killing three people and wounding 14 others. That was followed by another car bomb outside the city, targeting a gathering of construction workers, that killed two and wounded 12, according to police.
In the oil-rich city of Basra in the south, two car bombs exploded in a busy downtown street, killing six.
About an hour later, two parked car bombs ripped through two neighborhoods in the southern city of Nasiriyah, 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Baghdad, killing one and wounding 17.
In the town of Mahmoudiya, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Baghdad, two civilians were killed and nine wounded when a car bomb went off in an open market.
In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad, a blast struck a produce market, killing eight and wounding 28.
In Madain, about 20 kilometres (14 miles) a roadside bomb and then a car bomb exploded, killing three and wounding 14.
Near Hillah, 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad, a car bomb parked in a parking lot exploded, killing one and wounding nine. Hillah is about
The shooting happened near the restive northern city of Mosul, when gunmen attacked police guarding a remote stretch of an oil pipeline, killing four and wounding five.
The Taksim Solidarity Platform has condemned last night’s police crackdown on Taksim Square and Gezi Park, challenging the Governor of Istanbul’s statement that 44 people were injured and “none seriously”.
“There are dozens of injured shot with rubber bullets or who couldn’t go to the hospital,” the Platform said, adding that infirmaries set up at Divan hotel — raided by police last night — at the entrance of Gezi Park.
“The attack with rubber bullets, intense tear gas and stun grenades at a moment when there were a lot of women, kids and elderly people were at the park is a crime against humanity,” the statement said.
Police with detainees last night:
— ufuk akkaya (@ufuk_akkaya) June 16, 2013
Taksim Square, cleared of protesters, this morning:
Taksim square this morning. http://t.co/DDqFZVqX3E
— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) June 16, 2013
Two Saudi women have been given 10-month prison sentences on Saturday for seeking to help a Canadian woman who wanted to leave her Saudi husband with their children.
The court convicted Fawzia al-Ayuni and Wajiha al-Huaider of the Islamic sharia law offence of takhbib, or incitement of a wife to defy the authority of her husband. They were banned from leaving the kingdom for two years, rights activist Aql al-Bahli said.
They have a month to appeal against the judgment.
Al-Ayuni and al-Huaider were briefly detained by police a year and a half ago in the company of the Canadian woman, who wanted to flee the kingdom with her children after a row with her husband.