Turkey police arrest 59 protesters, journalists
Demonstrations began on Saturday and continued into Sunday night. International media claim that 12 of the arrested were journalists, while Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper put this figure much lower, at just two reporters.
First responders who were active at the scene also said the riot police had tried to sweep them as they were providing first aid to wounded protesters.
Istanbul police have managed to drive out the most violent protesters from Taksim Square and most of the adjacent streets. Currently, there are a total of more than a thousand people, including passers-by and police, in the area surrounding the square and security forces have surrounded a Mosque located near the square.
Police are engaged in ongoing operations against protestors with the most active among them being detained.
Law enforcement officers are moving deeper into the surrounding streets and alleys under the cover of water cannons.
Sirens of ambulances can be heard on Taksim Square and in the surrounding area.
Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannon Saturday to disperse some 3,000 demonstrators who tried to enter flashpoint protest spot Taksim Square in Istanbul.
The group had gathered on the Istiklal Avenue pedestrian way that leads to the square, the site of nearly three weeks of protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-rooted government that left four people dead and some 8,000 injured.
Nearby Gezi Park, the birthplace of the unrest, will reopen to the public shortly, authorities announced earlier Saturday, warning that no further protests there would be tolerated.
"We intend to reopen Gezi Park on Sunday or Monday at the latest so that it is available for people to use," said Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu.
But, he continued, "parks are not places for protests. They must serve as a place of calm and tranquility for all people."
A brutal police crackdown on May 31 against a peaceful sit-in to save 600 trees in the park sparked June's nationwide protests against Erdogan.
Protesters occupied the small park day and night before being evicted by police on June 15.Since then, the park has been closed.
But in the face of public anger, authorities planted additional trees and a Turkish court annulled a government decision to redevelop the park, saying locals had not been sufficiently consulted about the project.
Residents feared the redevelopment plan would turn the area into a shopping district, while urban planners and ecologists said the proposals did not respect the environment.
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