Amnesty International has released an official statement addressing local authorities to investigate the ‘use of excessive force against peaceful protestors’ in Taksim Square, Istanbul over the past few days. Protestors gathered in the square to raise their concerns over plans to construct a shopping mall in Gezi Park as part of a wider regeneration project.
Local media reports state that police moved in on the protestors on Thursday 30 May to disperse the group using ‘excessive force’. It has been reported that the police have been using pepper spray and photographs circulating the internet show tear gas in operation. For decades Taksim Square has been used for demonstrators to voice their concerns on various issues and has been the scene of numerous protests over the years.
The statement from Amnesty International implores: “Any decision to disperse an assembly should be taken only as a last resort and in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality. International standards require that in dispersing assemblies, police must avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, must restrict any such force to the minimum necessary.”
Plans are to create a shopping mall on Taksim Park in the centre of the square. The pedestrianisation of the surrounding area is already underway, beginning in November 2012. Construction workers have returned to the site to begin felling trees in the park following the dispersal of protestors by police, including the removal of trees replanted by protestors.
A video of Taksim Square during the protests can be viewed here. Follow the developments on Twitter via #occupygezi and #direngezipark which are trending online.