Turkish police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of people who gathered to commemorate Pride week in Istanbul, after authorities issued a ban on the annual march. At least 19 people have also been arrested.
According to CBC/Radio-Canada, activists assembled on a main pedestrian street to read a statement denouncing the ban, which was announced last week. At least two high-profile legislators were among those caught in the melee. From Reuters:
A German lawmaker and a member of the European Parliament were also briefly detained while police chased activists into side streets and blocked them from gathering and reading out a statement, saying it was banned.
Istanbul’s Pride march has been largely peaceful since its inception in 2003, but that didn’t stop Turkish authorities from deploying hundreds of riot police to Taksim Square on Sunday.
The ban was ostensibly made out of “concern for public order,” and follows warnings issued by the ultra-nationalist group Alperen Hearths, which promised violence if festivities moved forward.
John Bass, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, posted an Instagram photo of a rainbow flag flying in his yard in Ankara.
“It reminds all of us that human rights are universal rights and belong to everyone, no matter who they love,” he wrote.
Last Sunday, Istanbul riot police also fired tear gas in order to disburse a march held for transgender rights, which was held without permission.