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Turkish police brace for anniversary of 2013 unrest

31 May 2015 15:25




The Turkish police have intensified security measures around Istanbul’s Taksim Square on the second anniversary of massive anti-government protest rallies.

Security forces blocked major roadways leading to the square and the adjacent Gezi Park on Sunday while public transportation connections in the neighborhood were suspended, AFP reported.

Riot police, equipped with water cannon trucks, were deployed in the area to suppress any protest efforts.

The huge protest rallies on May 31, 2013 followed government’s efforts to uproot trees in the Gezi Park as part of its plan to redevelop the popular site.

The initial demonstrations quickly grew into mass protest marches converging on the major square over what the protesters referred to as the authoritarianism of then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently serving as the president.

Gulsum Elvan (C), mother of Turkish youth, Berkin Elvan, who was killed by a tear gas canister during demonstrations, sits along with demonstrators on the central Istiklal avenue near Taksim Square in Istanbul, on May 31, 2015. ©AFP

The turmoil, which was widely viewed as the biggest challenge to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since it rose to power in 2002, was brutally suppressed by riot police forces, who resorted to the wide use of tear gas and water cannons.

Erdogan, meanwhile, censured the protesters as “terrorists,” claiming that they were intent on destabilizing the country. He vowed that the government will take a tough stand against protest efforts.

The government’s heavy-handed security measures against the protesters elicited harsh condemnation from Turkey’s Western allies.

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