ISTANBUL: Police Attack Pride With Tear Gas, Water Cannons, Rubber Bullets
Turkish police have fired water cannon and rubber pellets to disperse a crowd gathered in central Istanbul for the city's annual gay pride parade. The police appeared intent on stopping the crowd gathering near Taksim Square on Sunday, a cameraman for the Reuters news agency reported. Al Jazeera's Serpil Karacan, reporting from Istanbul, said opposition members of parliament formed a human chain to block the riot police. Images and videos posted on social media showed several people carrying gay pride flags running away while being fired upon by a water cannon mounted on an armoured police vehicle. As of 1400 GMT, the protesters have left Taksim Square and the nearby Istikal Street, and the city is "back to normal" according to our correspondent.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, photojournalist Bradley Secker, who is at the scene in Taksim, said the gay pride marchers were "puzzled" by the police action, given that a similar parade on June 21 went on in Istanbul without any incident. According to the AFP news agency, police took action against the crowd when demonstrators began shouting slogans accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of "fascism". No official comment has so far been issued by the government, but there were reports that the parade was stopped as it was Ramadan. However, Karajan said the parade, which has been held over the past 13 years without police intervention, occured peacefully during Ramadan last year.