100s arrested as major Turkish unions strike

100s arrested as major Turkish unions strike
Mon Jun 17, 2013 14:34:52

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have reportedly been arrested in Turkey as two major trade unions go on a nationwide strike.

According to the Ankara and Istanbul bar associations, some 600 people were detained on Sunday as part of a crackdown on protests that have gripped the country for about three weeks.

Riot police were still firing volleys of tear gas and water at pockets of demonstrators in Istanbul and the capital Ankara early on Monday, after a weekend of clashes sparked by the eviction of protesters occupying Gezi Park, the epicentre of the protest movement.

Meanwhile, the country’s KESK and DISK trade unions, who together represent hundreds of thousands of workers, called a one-day stoppage to object to the police violence against demonstrations and said they planned to hold demos in the late afternoon.
"Our demand is for police violence to end immediately," KESK spokesman Baki Cinar told AFP, adding that the unions would be joined by striking engineers, dentists and doctors.

Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler condemned the walkout as "illegal" and warned strikers not to take to the streets, as the government battled to clamp down on nearly three weeks of nationwide civil protests.

At a rally of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday, the premier insisted it was his "duty" to order police to storm Gezi Park after protesters defied his warnings to clear out.

"I said we were at an end. That it was unbearable. Yesterday the operation was carried out and it was cleaned up," a defiant Erdogan told his supporters.

Turkey's political turmoil first began when a peaceful sit-in to save Gezi Park's 600 trees from being razed prompted a brutal police response on May 31, spiralling into countrywide demonstrations against Erdogan.

The crisis has claimed four lives and injured nearly 7,500 people so far, according to the Turkish Medical Association.

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