Video: Turkish police start to clear protesters from Taksim Square

posted at 8:01 am on June 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

“Tayyip side of the Moon,” reads one piece of graffiti in this AP video taken in Istanbul earlier today.  Another piece of graffiti on a bus window reads “Devil Tayyip,” also taken by the AP.  Both show a certain measure of contempt for Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, and the feeling may be mutual.  Erdogan ordered police to assault the barricades in Taksim Square and end the two-week-long standoff between the Islamist government and the Kemalist protesters:

CBS News has more:

Hundreds of police in riot gear forced through barricades in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square early Tuesday, pushing many of the protesters who had occupied the square for more than a week into a nearby park.

CBS News’ Holly Williams, who was at the scene, reports there was evidence of the widespread police use of tear gas and water cannons, prompting many of the protesters to flee the square into Gezi Park, where many had been camping. There were also strong signs that police had used rubber bullets, she says.

There were running battles at one edge of the square between police and some groups of protesters who fired fireworks, firebombs and stones at police water cannons. Police made frequent announcements through loudspeakers, asking the group to stop attacking police and saying they did not want to use tear gas, before then firing the tear gas. A water cannon could be seen dousing another police vehicle that was set alight by a firebomb.

There seems to be some confusion among government officials about what the police operation was intended to do:

Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the governor for Istanbul, said in a message issued on his Twitter account that the police operation was to dismount the banners hung on the building and at a monument on the square. He said people occupying the park at the square would not be touched.

As police clashed with activists near a side of the square where construction has already started, bulldozers and garbage trucks began cleaning up some of the barricades on the square. A group of protesters were seen at another corner of the square, apparently trying to negotiate with police.

Some protesters were seen trying to build another small barricade on the square but were repelled by tear gas.

This might solve the immediate problem for Erdogan, but it’s probably going to increase his long-term problems.  It’s unclear why Erdogan chose this moment to act.  According to CBS, the number of protesters had started to decline in Taksim, if not in Gezi Park, the source of the initial conflict.  Routing the protesters now will probably inflame the population again.  It’s practically a recruiting drive for Erdogan’s opposition.  For a man whose fortunes already look shaky, the police assault is a strange move.

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You just gotta feel the lovin from the Islamic State, no?

First its the beatings. Then the bullets. Then the beheadings.

Why, in no time at all, the meek shall inherit the tyranny.

ajacksonian on June 11, 2013 at 8:04 AM

It’s unclear why Erdogan chose this moment to act.

Maybe he’s surrounded not by advisers but by yes-men who are afraid of crossing him in any way.

itsnotaboutme on June 11, 2013 at 8:06 AM

There seems to be some confusion among government officials about what the police operation was intended to do:

A lone liar has enough trouble trying to remember what his story is. How much more an oligarchy?

itsnotaboutme on June 11, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Obama’s NSA and CIA providing material and intelligence on anti-islamist protesters.

tom daschle concerned on June 11, 2013 at 8:13 AM

Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the governor for Istanbul, said in a message issued on his Twitter account that the police operation was to dismount the banners hung on the building and at a monument on the square. He said people occupying the park at the square would not be touched.

I’m no expert in urban assault operations but it seems pretty absurd to believe that they needed that many police in riot gear, that number of APVs and water cannons if the goal was simply to dismount banners.

And why bother with signs at all when you have a square full of protesters? Afraid it might scare away the tourists?

Happy Nomad on June 11, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Am I the only one that has noticed the absolute silence from the rat-eared despot or Kerry or Hagel about what is going on in Turkey? Turkey is a NATO ally. You’d think the administration would at least acknowledge the protests are going on.

Happy Nomad on June 11, 2013 at 8:21 AM

Maybe he’s surrounded not by advisers but by yes-men who are afraid of crossing him in any way.

itsnotaboutme on June 11, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Or the ChiComs are doing the advising.

Steve Eggleston on June 11, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Unless I’m mistaken, King Obozo just sent them F-16s didn’t he?

WryTrvllr on June 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM

Unless I’m mistaken, King Obozo just sent them F-16s didn’t he?

WryTrvllr on June 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM

I’m pretty sure you are thinking about the gifts in military aid we just gave the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Hope that makes you feel better. /

Happy Nomad on June 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Ahem,*cough cough*!

Edward Snowden revealed as source of NSA leak Russia would consider granting NSA leaker Edward Snowden asylum, presidential press secretary says – @ria_novosti

Story metadata:
Submitted 8 mins ago from en.ria.ru by editor
==============================================

canopfor on June 11, 2013 at 8:51 AM

So,I wonder if this will be a Tahrir Square Part Deux!

canopfor on June 11, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Turkey is a NATO ally. You’d think the administration would at least acknowledge the protests are going on.

Happy Nomad on June 11, 2013 at 8:21 AM

Why? I don’t think he’s said anything about Denmark lately. Nor about France. I think the extent of his comments on the British soldier being murdered was “Damn, that’s a shame.”

GWB on June 11, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Thanks for keeping your eye on the events in Turkey, Ed. You are the only one at HA who bothers to take a closer look at stuff that happens outside the USA rather than cut and paste some foreign news item and then accompany it with some infantile comment.

It’s good to see so many young people who regard Ataturk as their hero…after all as the man who secularised Turkey and who broke the Caliphate his legacy is hated by the Islamists

Erdogan is normally a very canny politician but the protests have wrongfooted him. His no longer seems to be 100% teflon

callingallcomets on June 11, 2013 at 7:33 PM