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Istanbul police go after protesters as Gezi Park reopens, re-closes

Police have fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to block demonstrators from entering Gezi Park. When Turkish authorities reopened the area on Monday they warned that no further protests would be tolerated.

The police move comes after Turkish authorities reopened Gezi Park to public use earlier Monday. However, after police sealed off access to the central Taksim Square and the adjacent park later in the day, protesters moved to the streets.

"Four people died for this park," a young demonstrator shouted while others called the police action unfair and asked that authorities stop emptying Gezi. "This park will reopen!"

Watch video 00:29

Gezi Park protests continue

June's nationwide protests against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his right-wing government began after a police crackdown on May 31 against a peaceful sit-in to prevent a project that would have razed 600 trees in the park. Nearly three weeks of protests in Turkey left four people dead and about 8,000 injured. Until police forcefully evicted them on June 15, protesters occupied the small park and put up tents to remain around the clock.

‘Unauthorized protests'

The park had remained closed since the evictions and only reopened for about three hours on Monday.

"Gezi Park has been reopened to public," Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu wrote on Twitter earlier Monday, "but there are many calls for unauthorized protests aimed at turning the park into an occupation zone."

Between the closing in June and Monday's brief reopening, authorities planted additional trees and a court annulled the government decision to raze the park, ruling that officials had not sufficiently consulted locals about the project. Residents had feared that the project would have turned the area into a shopping district, and urban planners and ecologists said the proposals did not respect the environment.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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