Turkish Police Use Water Cannons, Rubber Bullets On Istanbul Pride March

Turkish Police Use Water Cannons, Rubber Bullets On Istanbul Pride March

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Multiple sources are reporting that Istanbul police turned water cannons and rubber bullets on marchers who had gathered for the city’s 13th annual LGBTI parade today, allegedly in retaliation for slogans accusing Turkey’s conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “fascism.”

One parade-goer interviewed by Al Jazeera said that crowd members were “puzzled” by the police response, especially considering that the parade has been held for the last 13 years with no police disturbance. Parade organizers say that banned at the Istanbul Governorship cancelled the parade “at the last minute and without prior notice” because of the holy Muslim holiday of Ramadan even though last year’s parade occurred peacefully during the holiday.

VICE News expands on the violence:

A cameraman for the Dogan News Agency said that police seemed set on stopping protesters before they reached Taksim Square, which has been a flash point for protests in the past…

After water cannons stopped protesters from marching in one direction, they turned around and continued to march down the street away from police. Many demonstrators made their way to nearby Cihangir, where they gathered in a semi-party atmosphere with dance music, cheers, and whistles mingling with occasional wafts of tear gas as police chased people down side streets in the area. Others gathered at Tunel, where the pride march usually finishes, but were also dispersed by police.

Reuters provides some cultural background:

While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, unlike many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AK Party he founded have shown little interest in expanding rights for minorities, gays and women, and are intolerant of dissent.

American pop diva and civil rights activist Lady Gaga also mentioned the crackdown and re-posted video of the event on her Twitter account:

In the video below, you can see a police armored vehicle blast one protestor off of his feet by shooting him in the face with the cannon.

(featured image via Joe.My.God.)

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