Photo: Police Clear Protesters from Istanbul’s Taksim Square This Morning

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On the 12th day of mass protesters against the Turkish Government, hundreds of police moved into Istanbul’s Taksim Square overnight.

Witnesses said police, backed by armoured vehicles and wielding shields as they moved around barricades, fired teargas to scatter small groups of demonstrators occupying the Square.

As they moved in, police appealed on loudspeakers, “Dear Gezi friends. We are unhappy with this situation. We don’t want to intervene. We don’t want to harm you. Please withdraw.”

“Every place is Taksim, every place resistance,” the protesters chanted.

The governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, said on Twitter that police were there only to remove banners and placards.
Protesters are trying to re-convene this morning.

The security forces also renewed their operations against protests in Ankara, using water cannon and tear gas in Kızılay Square and Kuğulu Park in the early hours of today to dismantle tents. Demonstrators fled to side streets.

In Adana, protesters were challenged by police when they attempted to march toward the Akkapı District to join demonstrators who clashed with supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday night.

Protests in Edirne and İzmir also attracted thousands and passed relatively peacefully.

The Taksim Square sit-in began on 28 May to protest Government plans to cut down trees and re-develop near-by Gezi Park, one of the last major green spaces in Istanbul. Three days later, police moved violently to disperse the demonstration — the backlash led to a mass rally in Taksim Square with a spread of demonstrations across the country.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained defiant, despite conciliatory noises from President Abdullah Gul and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. He has said that the re-development, which features the construction of a replica Ottoman-era military barracks, will not be stopped, and he has framed the protesters as a small group of foreign-infiltrated lawbreakers who do not command popular support.

On Monday, Erdogan had said he was willing to meet with some of the protest leaders, but he returned to aggressive language yesterday.


Turkey (1950 GMT): A Battle Through the Night?

Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas has said that police will continue operation “until Taksim Square is cleared”.

Scott Peterson of The Christian Science Monitor writes:

Turkey (1940 GMT): Detained Lawyers Released

Emre Peker of The Wall Street Journal sends the message:

Turkey (1935 GMT): Taksim Square Tonight

With renewed police operations against protesters in Taksim Square tonight, Richard Engel of US NBC News reports — in gas mask — from the scene:


Emre Peker of The Wall Street Journal writes:

From journalist Tim Pool:

Turkey (1237 GMT): Gezi Park Lawyers Arrested, Riot Police Return

More than 50 lawyers, who have been defending Gezi Park protestors following the police crackdown, have been arrested themselves at the Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul.

Doğan news agency reports that around 100 lawyers are outside the police station demanding the release of their colleagues as a Special Forces Unit intervened, forcing some lawyers to fall to the ground.

Attorney Fatma Elif Koru described the “brutal arrests” to The Guardian:

Meanwhile, dozens of riot police re-entered Gezi Park earlier today:

Turkey (1206 GMT): Erdogan Remains Defiant

In a speech to parliament, Prime Minister Erdogan has once again defended his response to the protests and thanked the police for clearing Taksim square and removing “rags” – the protestors’ banners – from the Ataturk monument.

The Prime Minister showed no sign of contrition, stating “If my reaction is considered too tough. Then I’m sorry. I am Tayyip Erdogan, I can’t change that.”

He continued:

Violent actions that took place in many cities of Turkey have camouflaged themselves behind the Gezi Park protests. I request all activists to see the big picture, understand the plot, and withdraw from the streets…

What were we supposed to do? Kneel in front of these people and ask them remove the banners? How would those illegal rags be removed from public buildings?

Freedom and intervention in lifestyles are excuses used by the protesters. The hotels in Taksim are now 80 percent empty, the shopkeepers in Taksim are suffering – except the beer sellers. This is intervening with others’ freedom.

Turkey: (1155 GMT) Pro-Government “Provocateurs” in Taksim Square?

There is sustained chatter on social media that those who threw Molotov bombs at police this morning were not protesters, but “provocateurs” trying to stigmatise the demonstrations.

The Guardian’s Luke Harding is also suspicious:

Video footage on the website of the daily Hurriyet shows a small group of four of five “demonstrators” lobbing cocktails at police. But their attempts are suspiciously theatrical and inept – with the “demonstrators” at one point advancing in a hopeless Roman-style assault.

Turkish state media have broadcast footage of these encounters live, in stark contrast to the early days of the protests, marked by police brutality, which it failed entirely to report.

A protester makes the claim in an interview with The Guardian:

Turkey: (1147 GMT) Raw Video of Police Move Into Taksim Square

From the Associated Press:

Turkey: (1011 GMT) Protesters Rebuild Barricade

CBC’s Derek Stoffel is livetweeting the Taksim protests. He notes that most Turkish TV stations have stopped showing live footage of Taksim Square and are instead showing President Erdogan’sspeech to Parliament. Meanwhile, protesters say they will not leave the square.


Iraq (0911 GMT): Arab-Kurdish 16th Brigade Splits, Kurds Defect

Amid ongoing tensions between Iraq’s ethnic Arabs and Kurds, the army’s 16th Brigade — famous for being roughly half Arab and half Kurdish – has split in two, with the Kurdish spokesman for the brigade, Rekawt Mohammed, saying “We have nothing to do with the Iraqi army anymore.”

Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government plans to formally incorporate the 1,200 troops, as well as the territory they currently control, into its own security forces.

Turkey (0725 GMT): Police Move on Istanbul’s Taksim Square


The Guardian’s Constanze Letsch reports from the scene in Taksim Square:

The police have made public announcements saying they are not going to raid [Gezi] park, they are just going to clean up the square. But right now they just teargassed the front steps of Gezi Park. So a lot of people are being gassed and are now coughing inside Gezi Park. It is an atmosphere of massive confusion.

Protesters don’t think they [the police] are sincere after yesterday’s promises. Protesters are afraid that they are going to clear the park.

Turkey (0645 GMT): Police Move on Istanbul’s Taksim Square


Derek Stoffel of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports:



Turkey (0637 GMT): Police Move on Istanbul’s Taksim Square


A series of messages from Joe Parkinson of the Wall Street Journal over the last 45 minutes:





Turkey: Senior AKP Official Calls For Regulation of Social Media


A leading official of the ruling Justice and Development Party has hinted at a “legal regulation” to “set social media in order”.

Amid nationwide protests, Ali Şahin said:

Social media must be brought under order and regularity….A legal regulation could be made. People must be held responsible for the content they write. If as a result of a tweet they write, people loot shops and burn vehicles, the one who wrote it must bear its costs.

Earlier in the 12-day challenge from mass demonstratoins, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Twitter a “plague”. Dozens of people were detained, notably in Izmir, on allegations that they used social media to stir up protest, but were soon released.