A Turkish lawmaker was among several people injured as violence escalated during a second day of clashes in Istanbul when police attacked demonstrators protesting a plan to redevelop a city-center park.
Sirri Sureyya Onder from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party was hit in the shoulder at close range by a tear-gas canister fired by police, and is now in intensive care in a “serious condition,” Ertugrul Kurkcu, another legislator from the group, said in a phone interview.
Television footage showed Onder at Gezi Park near Taksim Square yesterday, physically blocking the construction machines and shouting “there is no license.” Another lawmaker, Sezgin Tanrikulu from the opposition Republican People’s Party, was also hospitalized, NTV television said. It said six or seven people were taken to hospital and hundreds treated on the scene after being gassed.
The clashes erupted after a police raid at dawn today, the second in as many days, against protesters camping out in the park to halt a government-backed project. They oppose what they say are plans by the government to cut down the park’s trees and build a replica of an Ottoman army barracks that once stood there, as well as a shopping mall.
A woman who was injured in the head was in a serious condition, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. Peace and Democracy described the police intervention as “state terror” in an e-mailed note. Umut Oran, deputy chairman of the Republican party, petitioned the prosecutor’s office to investigate “excessive use of force by police,” Anatolia said.
Amnesty International condemned the police treatment of “peaceful protesters” in a statement yesterday, and said one demonstrator who was seriously injured needed emergency surgery. Police erected barriers around the park after today’s clashes, television footage showed.
“Whatever you do, we’ve made our decision and we will implement it,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said of the Gezi Park plans on May 29. “We will revive history there,” he said, without giving details.
Oran compared the police action in Istanbul with the kind of dictatorial regimes that Turkey criticizes elsewhere, and accused Erdogan of acting outside the law. “No one can decide whatever they like, even if he is the prime minister,” he said.
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