turkey protest crackdown vstop orig_00001804.jpg
Crackdown on protests in Turkey
00:57 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Protesters are angry at the arrests of lawmakers and journalists

Hundreds march down the streets of Istanbul

Istanbul CNN  — 

Clashes erupted Saturday in Istanbul between police and protesters demonstrating against the arrests of opposition politicians and journalists.

Turkish police in riot gear used tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray to break up a crowd of several hundred people.

Protesters gathered to voice their anger at Friday’s round-up of nearly a dozen pro-Kurdish lawmakers, including the two leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

They’re also upset at the arrest of of journalists and executives of an opposition newspaper last weekend. The staffers were charged with links to the Kurdistan Workers party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Commentary: Why is Turkey detaining Kurds?

Hundreds marched down the streets of Istanbul on Saturday, chanting “We will resist, we will win.” Police issued several warnings via loudspeaker but were unable to disperse the crowd.

Officers then fired tear gas and aimed water cannons at the crowd as the protesters marched from Sisli, a district on the European side of Istanbul, to the headquarters of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.

Protests turned violent last month

A CNN crew saw more than a dozen protesters arrested. Police also chased demonstrators through standing traffic and down side streets and alleys as the situation escalated.

Pedestrians, including children, were caught in the middle of the confusion and were seen covering their faces and coughing from exposure to tear gas and pepper spray.

Some shoppers took shelter in stores, which locked their doors to keep crowds and tear gas from getting inside.

Journalists covering Saturday’s protest also faced police intimidation. CNN crews on the ground in Istanbul witnessed a journalist being threatened with arrest. His phone was temporarily confiscated by an officer, who deleted more than a dozen photos and videos of the protest.

Party leaders detained

Early Friday, more than a dozen members of Parliament from the pro-Kurdish HDP were detained because they failed to respond to a summons by a prosecutor, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office. State media reported several of the party’s politicians were detained as part of a terrorism investigation, following raids on their homes.

HDP party leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were among those arrested, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The HDP, Turkey’s third-largest political party, also said its headquarters in Ankara was raided.