A man was killed by a water cannon vehicle deployed to disperse protestors attempting to reach Taksim Square in Istanbul during the ‘May Day’ protests.
A man died after being hit by a water cannon vehicle as he was trying to reach Taksim Square in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, to celebrate May Day. Hundreds of protestors attempted to forcibly enter the square, which was cordoned by security forces. To disperse the rising crowd, police used non-lethal weapons like tear gas and water cannons against the demonstrators. However, a man was fatally hit by a water cannon vehicle as he tried to reach the square.
Anti-riot police in fill riot gear were deployed to prevent protestors from reaching the square. Taksim Square had been home to May Day celebrations until 1977. May 1st is celebrated as International Workers Day at Taksim Square, which has been a symbolic venue for protests in the past, reported RT.
However, ever since dozens of people were killed in the square during demonstrations, the other-wise bustling are is strictly off limits on every May 1st. The incident, dubbed “bloody May Day,” still haunts the memory of many old people. Turkey had cautiously reopened the square for celebrations in the late 2000s, but quickly shuttered access to the region in 2013, which has angered the locals.
Many citizens who are unhappy with the government and its decision to restrict access to Taksim Square, often try to force their way in, on May 1st. Members of the public intended to celebrate May Day in Taksim Square, and expecting a strong and rather unruly group of protestors this year too, the local government had deployed almost 25,000 police on duty.
The police had erected barricades at numerous junctions and closed down roads to prevent or at least minimize clashes between law enforcers and demonstrators. Moreover, security had been beefed up across Turkey’s biggest city, after it was hit twice this year by terrorist attacks, which authorities suspect is the handiwork of the ISIS terror group. Hence not taking any chances, Turkey had deployed 24,500 members of the security forces for the May Day celebrations, shared Istanbul governor’s office,
“Some illegal groups who want to damage the peace and safety of our people attempted illegal marches and demonstrations primarily around Taksim square… under the pretext of May Day celebrations.”
The group of protesters, meeting near the Divan Hotel close to Taksim Square and carrying banners of “Halkevleri” (People’s Houses), were dispersed by police using water cannons, reported Hurriyet Daily News. Another group from the People’s Liberation Party (HKP) was stopped by police and asked to disperse. According to local news agencies, a large congregation was encircled by police and then bombarded with tear gas. Many from the group were detained after a thorough body check.
It isn’t clear if the man died during one of the skirmishes. However, the man, identified as 57-year-old Nail Mavuş, was hit by a water cannon truck while crossing the street in the Tarlabaşı area of Beyoğlu, near Taksim Square. The seriously wounded man was rushed to a hospital, but he did not survive. According to authorities, the man succumbed to his injuries.
The water cannon security vehicle, or TOMA, is a massive vehicle which houses a large water tank and a cannon mounted on top. Pressurized water is shot through the cannon for dispersing an unruly crowd that doesn’t listen to instructions.
According to Telesur, Turkish police detained more than 200 people after scuffles broke out between protestors and security officials. The governor’s office later revealed that quite a few anti-government protesters attempted to break the barricade to reach the main Taksim Square,
“A total of 207 people have been detained and some 40 Molotov cocktails, 17 hand grenades, 176 fireworks… and lots of illegal posters have been seized.”
The office further acknowledged the tragic death of the man, but noted that he wasn’t killed by the impact of water, rather he was accidentally run over by the vehicle while it was maneuvering.
[Photo by Aris Messinis/Getty Images]