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THE Turkish police used pepper spray to disperse a group of protesters as a march to celebrate International Women’s Day ended in central Istanbul.

Women whistled and shouted “We are not silent, we are not afraid, we are not submissive”, as they pushed shields from Turkish police forces, sparking clashes with police, while the rest of the crowd of about 2,000 people dispersed.

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Police had prevented the crowd from marching in the city center after local authorities issued a statement saying they would not allow marches, demonstrations. Local metro stations had been closed since early afternoon.

“Government resign”, shouted the crowd during the demonstration. “We’re angry, we’re in mourning, we’re in feminist revolt,” read a large banner held by protesters.

The march was organized just over two months before crucial Turkish elections, and just over a month after devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey that killed more than 52,000 people.