‘Turkish Spring’ tests Erdogan’s rule

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen

 

  • Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Twitter is a menace to society (Photo: svenwerk)

A violent crackdown on a peaceful demonstration on Friday (31 May) against plans to demolish a park and to erect a shopping centre in Taksim Square in central Istanbul quickly prompted a larger protest.

Pent-up public frustration against heavy-handed government rule and perceived lack of accountability poured out into the streets in Turkey’s largest city to be met head on by battalions of police.

The protest spread to 67 other cities and 81 provinces over the weekend, says the government.

An estimated 1,000 people have been injured in Istanbul and another 700 in Ankara, reports the Associated Press.

The streets around Taksim were on Monday littered with spent canisters of tear gas.

One 23-year-old student from Istanbul Technical University lost an eye after being shot at close range by police.

For her part, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she “regrets disproportionate use of force by members of the Turkish police” in a statement on Sunday (2 June).

She called for calm and restraint on all sides.

Police eventually backed off on Sunday, as thousands remained in Taksim square.

The mood later turned festive, with people chanting victory slogans and calling Erdogan a “dictator.”

But clashes were still reported late on Sunday evening in Istanbul’s seaside neighbourhood of Besiktas.

Protests the same day also turned violent in Ankara.

The long-serving Prime Minister has won three mandates but is seen as becoming increasingly autocratic and Islamist by his critics.

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Blood In the Streets: Turkey Explodes In Violence (**Extremely Graphic Content**)

in Breaking News 1 day ago

Editor’s Note: Coming soon to a neighborhood near you. These protests reportedly erupted a few days ago when activists staged a sit-in at a local park. Now there are thousands of Greeks in the streets, hundreds arrested, and scores brutally beaten. So much so, that there are literally pools of blood flowing through the streets. It only takes a seemingly innocuous catalyst for all hell to break loose. These people aren’t being motivated because a park is being razed for commercial purposes. The resentment and anger goes much, much deeper than that.

Report Contributed by The Daily Sheeple:

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Turkey is entering its third day of violent protests as police have withdrawn from Taksim Square and allowed the mass protests to continue.

Over 900 people have been arrested across Turkey for what the authorities called a security measure.

The first photo below was taken from a CNN IReport that CNN themselves have not vetted.

Blood in streets near Taksim Turkey

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A shocking video report from RT shows violent clashes between police and protesters:

An RT article covered various aspects of the protests including how they started and what they stand for:

Police in Istanbul have withdrawn from Taksim Square, allowing the mass protest to continue unabated, Turkish media report. Istanbul and Ankara are entering the third day of violent protests, with tear gas and water cannon deployed and over 900 arrested.

Follow RT’s live updates on Taksim Square protest

Minor scuffles broke out after protesters lobbed fireworks at officers as they were drawing back, the state-run Anadolu Agency reports. Police removed barricades around the square, located in the heart of the city, which had previously been erected to prevent the anti-government protests, Private Dogan news agency said.

Despite the authorities decision to allow tens of thousands to flood onto the square, the main subway gateway to Taksim, the central station in the city’s metro network, has reportedly been shut down in an effort to keep more people from reaching the ongoing protests.

In the capital, Ankara, security forces battled with demonstrators who had amassed at a park near Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office. Rallies have also been staged in the cities of Bodrum, Konya and Izmir.

Protestors take care of an injured demonstrator during a demonstration in support of protests in Istanbul and against the Turkish Prime Minister and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in Ankara, on June 1, 2013 (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)
Protestors take care of an injured demonstrator during a demonstration in support of protests in Istanbul and against the Turkish Prime Minister and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in Ankara, on June 1, 2013 (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

Confronted with the growing street opposition, Erdogan remained defiant, demanding that protesters “stop their demonstrations immediately.”

“Police were there yesterday, they’ll be on duty today and also tomorrow because Taksim Square cannot be an area where extremists are running wild,” the PM warned.

In two days about 939 people have been detained across the Turkey as part of “necessary security measures,” Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler said.

Police use a water cannon to disperse protestors near the Taksim Gezi park in Istanbul after clashes with riot police, on June 1, 2013, during a demonstration against the demolition of the park (AFP Photo / Gurcan Ozturk)
Police use a water cannon to disperse protestors near the Taksim Gezi park in Istanbul after clashes with riot police, on June 1, 2013, during a demonstration against the demolition of the park (AFP Photo / Gurcan Ozturk)

Many have wondered how the protests originally erupted and the answer to that question is that it apparently started after dozens of activists decided to attempt a sit in at a park that was set to be destroyed for commercial use.

After the police became overzealous and clearly attacked peaceful protesters, many other people within Turkish society joined their ranks.

On Monday, several dozen activists tried to stage a sit-in in Gezi Park, the last area of green space left on Taksim Square, after several trees were torn up to make way for a commercial redevelopment.

Erdogan dismissed the small protest on Wednesday, saying authorities would go ahead with the plan, which entails the construction of a replica Ottoman-era barracks that could house a shopping mall or apartments.

Following three days of police pressure, which saw officers douse peaceful protesters with pepper spray and tear gas, the sit-in attracted support from broad sections of Turkish society.

Protestors run away from tear gas at the Taksim Gezi park in Istanbul after clashes with riot police, on June 1, 2013, during a demonstration against the demolition of the park (AFP Photo / Gurcan Ozturk)
Protestors run away from tear gas at the Taksim Gezi park in Istanbul after clashes with riot police, on June 1, 2013, during a demonstration against the demolition of the park (AFP Photo / Gurcan Ozturk)

The heavy-handed tactics deployed by police have been viewed by demonstrators as a sign of the government’s increasingly authoritarian bent, with the park demonstration turning into a broader, nationwide protest against Erdogan’s government.

Similar demonstrations have flared up around the country despite a court decision to temporarily halt demolition of the park.

 

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Turkish police and protesters battle for Taksim square

Turkish police fired tear gas at demonstrators before retreating from Taksim Square in Istanbu.

8:28PM BST 01 Jun 2013

Some protesters hurled objects at officers and police vehicles, prompting police to fire several rounds of tear gas.

In Ankara, a police vehicle hit two demonstrators who were crouched in the middle of the street, barricading themselves behind rubbish bins.

One of the men who was hit was seen being rescued by other demonstrators and loaded into an ambulance while flashing a “V” for victory sign.

The other man was thrown in the air but appeared to not have been seriously injured.

A demonstration that started in Istanbul on Friday as a peaceful sit-in to save an inner-city green space has turned into nationwide anti-government protests in Turkey, revealing the depth of public anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

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