Police close Gezi Park again

Police closed access to Istanbul’s Gezi Park yesterday following a call on social media for a demonstration at the spot which became the symbol of nationwide demonstrations last month.

Twitter users mobilized under the hashtag #milyonlargeziparkına (Millions to Gezi Park) to spread word about a gathering at the park in order to commemorate the protesters killed during the demonstrations as well as to denounce police violence and prosecutions against activists.

However, police were prepared and cordoned off the park’s entrance from the Taksim Square yesterday afternoon. A water cannon truck (TOMA) was deployed near the junction between the pedestrian Istiklal Avenue and the Taksim Square, where most of the demonstrations were concentrated in the last few weeks.

There were some scuffles and police once more resorted to the use of water canon against a small group of protesters. The pedestrian entertainment area has been awash with the TOMA’s water mixed with chemicals almost every week-end evening since the start of the protests.

Many by-standers were soaked from the pressurized water fired by the police and some suffered severe reactions from the water and chemical mixture.

Police units have also detained a person who started a solo sit-in in front of Gezi Park’s entrance.

The protest to prevent the municipality cutting down trees at Istanbul’s small green lung at the heart of the crowded central entertainment area erupted into nationwide demonstrations throughout June, after the outcry caused by the the harsh response of the police force.

Police then violently evacuated the park after protesters had occupied it for over a week. The park was subsequently sealed off for more than three weeks until the beginning of Ramadan on July 8.

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