Istanbul police fire tear gas at banned Women’s Day demonstration

Police in the Turkish city of Istanbul have fired tear gas to disperse thousands of women who were marching on International Women’s Day to denounce violence and demand greater rights in defiance of a government ban on holding protest rallies.

Istanbul anti-riot police officers turned a peaceful march on the condemnation of violence against women on Friday evening into a violent one when they began hurling tear gas canisters and pepper spray among several thousands of demonstrators who had defied a government order banning such rally on Istiklal Caddesi, the city’s central avenue.

Hundreds of riot police in full gear blocked the demonstrators’ path in an attempt to bar them from marching along the district’s main pedestrian avenue. As a result, scuffles broke after police forces pushed the women and menaced them with dogs to flee into side streets off the avenue.

No report of possible injuries and detentions has been released yet.

Hours prior to the banned rally, the area was teeming with police personnel who had erected cordons around the central Taksim Square, while many local shops were closed.