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Turkish police, protesters clash on deadly anti-govt. rally anniv.

Turkish police, protesters clash on deadly anti-govt. rally anniv.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkish police have used tear gas Saturday, May 31, to disperse demonstrators in Istanbul and Ankara on the first anniversary of deadly anti-government protests.

Some 25,000 police surrounded and blocked Istanbul's Taksim Square, the epicenter of the 2013 rallies.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier urged youths to not join the protests.

Protests against plans to redevelop Gezi Park in Istanbul turned into mass rallies against PM Erdogan last year after a heavy-handed police response. A number of people were killed in the unrest, with thousands more injured.

A 64-year-old woman, who fell into a coma after inhaling tear gas during another crackdown on protesters in the capital in December, died on Friday.

Clashes broke out in Istanbul on Saturday after protesters marched on Taksim Square despite a government ban on gatherings in force there. Riot police, water cannon and armored vehicles were deployed to block access to the square and nearby Gezi Park. A number of demonstrators were reportedly arrested.

Security forces also fired tear gas at demonstrators in central Ankara and broke up protests in the southern city of Adana.

Earlier on Saturday, Istanbul officers kicked and detained a CNN reporter during a live broadcast from Taksim Square. Ivan Watson said in a Twitter post that he and his film crew were "released after half an hour".

The main organizers behind last year's Gezi Park protests - Taksim Solidarity - had called for a demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary.

But Erdogan warned young people not to join, saying: "One year later, people, including so-called artists, are calling for demonstrations, but you, Turkey's youth, you will not respond to the call."

Addressing a crowd of young people in the capital on Friday, he described the movement as "terrorist organizations" that "manipulated our morally and financially weak youth to attack our unity and put our economy under threat".

Protesters have clashed with police in recent months, with two men killed during angry demonstrations over a mining disaster that killed 301 people.

Anger also flared in March with the news of the death of a 15-year-old boy who had been in a coma since last June after being hit by a tear-gas canister during a protest.

In May 2013, protesters took the government by surprise by occupying Taksim Square and Gezi Park.

Riot police evicted them two weeks later using heavy-handed tactics and galvanizing anti-government demonstrators in several other cities.

Since then, Erdogan has faced accusations of authoritarianism and corruption after a string of scandals. He has also moved to block social media sites YouTube and Twitter, after accusing his opponents of using them to deliberately undermine him.

In the first vote since last year's mass protests, Erdogan's party won local elections in March, which were widely seen as a barometer reading of his popularity.

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