Turkish deputy PM says police won’t tolerate Taksim protests

Turkish deputy prime minister has categorically ruled out a permission to hold a protest in Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square, origin and flashpoint of last year’s summer protests, saying that police will intervene to disperse people gathering in the square.

Arınc told a bi-weekly press briefing that it is wrong to claim that all trade unions want to hold a rally in Taksim, arguing that some trade and labor unions, led by the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK), want to foment chaos and revive tensions by insisting on the Taksim Square. He said the DİSK was told that it is illegal to hold a rally in Taksim and that “it is obvious that Taksim is not a place for rallies and demonstrations.”

Arınc also claimed that construction works continue in Taksim, the primary reason why authorities denied the square to protesters on May 1 last year, referring to a small construction work started last week.

Arınc, who is also the government spokesman, said the government of ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) again designated May 1 as a Labor Day.

He noted that he believes the governor’s office will allow a small group representing trade and labor unions to read out a statement in Taksim, but a large, day-long gathering won’t be tolerated.

The deputy prime minister said the police will intervene to disperse the crowd in Taksim and a legal action will be filed against participants as it would be an unsanctioned rally.

When asked about the government’s intention to change the electoral system, Arınc recalled a reform package Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan announced last September. Erdogan then offered three options: Maintaining current system by lowering the electoral threshold, single-member majoritarian system and multi-member majoritarian system.

Arınc said the AK Party is currently working on last two options, complaining that the opposition didn’t express sympathy to the possible reform of the electoral system. It was not immediately clear why Arınc blasted the opposition for their position as the opposition parties claimed to lower the electoral threshold by maintaining party-list proportional system.

Arınc said they have only one month left to change the elections system because the constitutional changes should be done a year before the elections.