Police crack down on coal mine disaster protests in Istanbul and Ankara

Police use water cannon against protesters during a demonstration in Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue over the Soma disaster, May 17.  REUTERS Photo / Murad Sezer

Police have once more prevented demonstrators from mourning the mining disaster in Soma and denouncing the authorities’ responsibility for the deaths, cracking down on protests over the Soma disaster both in Istanbul and Ankara on May 17.

Police resorted to tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse a group of protesters from Istanbul’s central İstiklal Avenue. The protest had been called by the Taksim Solidarity Platform, the local association that initiated last year’s demonstrations against the cutting down of trees in Gezi Park. Some 34 people were detained during the crackdown.

Police once again took extraordinary security measures, deploying several riot police units and water cannon trucks (TOMA) along the pedestrian street, in addition to scores of plainclothes police officers in the area.

Another protest in Turkey’s capital on May 17 was cleared by police, resulting in the detention of 10 people.

A tense vigil was also staged on May 16 in Istanbul’s Kadıköy neighborhood after long negotiations with the police. A group of mourners who gathered on the tramway track in the Bahariye Avenue organized a silent sit-in, lighting candles in memory of the dead miners in Soma.
The official death toll has risen to 301, in the worst mining disaster in Turkey’s history.