One year after the deadly anti-government rallies in Turkey, protestors took to Taksim Square and Gezi Park again Saturday, despite a ban on gatherings.
More than 25,000 police were deployed in the city, along with armored vehicles and helicopters in a failed attempt to prevent protests. Authorities have begun firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse protestors.
Social media was a key source of information for protestors last year, as many Turkish television stations chose not to broadcast footage of the riots. Twitter, which was banned in Turkey earlier this year, was also being widely used during Saturday’s protests. Photos of seriously wounded protestors and videos of tear gas canisters being shot in the square have been widely circulating.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) May 31, 2014
— Pink Floyd Yaylalar (@PfloydfloydY) May 31, 2014
— gztrn ✌ (@Obefintlig) May 31, 2014
— TC Nuran Ryder (@nuryder) May 31, 2014
Taksim Solidarity, a grassroots, antigovernment movement, organized the protests earlier this week in honor of the one-year anniversary. "The government, fearful of this exemplary solidarity and resistance, still stigmatizes us as “Geziciler”; and with policies that encourage police violence through injustice and impunity, keeps polarizing the country in order to hide its own corruption, murders and criminality," the group said in a statement.
Hours before the protests were set to start, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the target of last year’s riots, said in a televised address, “You will not be able to come to those places like you did last year. Because the police have taken absolute orders, they will do all.” "All" apparently means tear-gassing citizens in Turkey.