A protestor in a gas mask during clashes with police near Taksim Square June 22, 2013 (Reuters - Mark Djurica)
ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Russia Today) - After dispersing a crowd commemorating the victims of police brutality with tear gas and rubber bullets, police swept the side streets of Istanbul with water cannons to prevent people from gathering again. Similar cleansing could be witnessed in Ankara.
Scattered clashes in the streets around Istanbul’s Taksim Square were being reported for hours after police dispersed the massive rally on the square itself. At least 42 people were injured in clashes, according to Istanbul Medical Chamber.
Police used heavy-handed tactics to push protesters back from Taksim, unleashing a barrage of rubber bullets and thick clouds of tear gas. Water cannon trucks were then parked at several entry points to Taksim to prevent the demonstrators from regrouping.
Meanwhile in the streets of the Turkish capital of Ankara, police sprayed tear gas and water to break up hundreds of protesters who were planning to march to the city's main square. Ankara riot police have been patrolling the streets in such a manner over the last week, with RT’s Tom Barton having experienced himself how it feels to be suddenly attacked by water cannon.
Social media are also flooded with pictures of the wounds from the police’s non-lethal force.
Thousands of people gathered on Taksim Square on Saturday to commemorate victims of police brutality during the previous stand-offs. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in the meantime blamed the massive protests on Turkey’s “enemies from abroad”.
The protestors gathered in the square holding carnations and Turkish national flags in their hands, with no political banners on display.
The police didn’t let the people return to Gezi Park, which has been cordoned off since last week. The crowd condemned the closure of the park, chanting: "Open park belonging to the public."
After warning the people to disperse, the riot police moved in to quell the demonstration. The crowd quickly scattered, with the protesters shouting: "Police, don't betray your people!"
Stand-offs continued in side streets with Twitter reports of thick clouds of gas filling the buildings around the square.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took part in the pro-governmental ‘Respect for National Will’ rally in the Black Sea port city of Samsun.
In his speech, he touched upon the Gezi Park protests, saying that the whole action was masterminded by the enemies of Turkey from abroad.
"I am asking you. Who is the winner at the end of the protests going on for three weeks now?” Erdogan is cited as saying by the local Anadolu news agency. “I will tell you. The winners are the 'interest rate lobbies' as well as Turkey's enemies. Who has lost? Turkey's economy, tourism, and international strength and the image of Turkey."
The prime minister said that the anti-government rallies currently taking place across Brazil are part of the same global conspiracy, which Turkey suffered from.
"It was the same game being played on Brazil, and same symbols, same banners, and the same international media. They are doing their best to achieve in Brazil what they could not achieve in Turkey," he said.
Erdogan also denied accusations that the police have been using excessive force against the Taksim protesters during the weeks of unrest.
"It is a betrayal to show Turkish police as pro-violence in the international media. The police are ours and they are doing their duty," the PM stressed.
The Taksim square has been the cradle of protests since May 31 after the police used force to remove a group of environmentalists opposing the government’s plans to develop Gezi Park.
But the rally quickly transformed into show of dissent against the government and Erdogan, who opponents call an authoritarian leader, pushing for the Islamisation of Turkey and meddling in peoples’ everyday lives.