Violent clashes break out between Turkish union members and police
Violent clashes have broken out in the Turkish city of Istanbul after police forces prevented labor union members from holding a press conference near the city’s main square, Taksim.
The violence erupted on Monday when security forces attacked labor union members who tried to head to the city’s iconic Gezi Park, which is next to the square.
Leaders of the unions wanted to declare their intention to assemble at Taksim Square on May 1.
However, Turkey’s Interior Ministry stressed that the government would not permit the unions to hold rally at Taksim Square.
Reports said at least one person was injured as security forces fired tear gas to disperse the unionists. Several people are also said to have been arrested.
On May 31, 2013, Turkish police broke up a sit-in held at Taksim Square against a proposal to demolish Gezi Park.
The violence turned into nationwide demonstrations against the ruling Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with police using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators.
Several people were killed and many more injured and detained as police forcefully cracked down on the protests.
Erdogan faced international condemnation for his handling of the crisis and the Turkish police were strongly criticized for using excessive force against peaceful protests.
The Turkish premier had described the protesters as vandals, looters or terrorists, and claimed the demonstrations were part of a plot to topple his government.