Erdogan to give police more power to deal protests

Erdogan to give police more power to deal protests
Wed Jun 19, 2013 08:09:51

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unveiled plans to increase the police’s powers in dealing with anti-government protests that hit the country about three weeks.

In an address to parliament in the capital Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan said that riot police had acted with restraint against the violent demonstrators and that their powers would be increased.

"Our security forces put up a successful and extremely patient struggle against the acts of violence by remaining within the limits set by democracy and the law," he stated.

Erdogan's defiant stance came amid unrelenting demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara.

The unrest in Turkey began on May 31 after the police broke up a sit-in held at Istanbul's Taksim Square to protest against the proposal to demolish Gezi Park.

Over the next several days, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters held demonstrations in 78 cities across the country.

According to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, five people have died, including a policeman, and about 7,800 people have been injured in the protests.

Six injured protesters are in critical condition and 11 people have lost their eyesight during the police crackdown.

The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is Istanbul's last green public space.

Erdogan has been harshly criticized for the way he has handled the crisis, and Amnesty International has censured the Turkish police for using excessive force against peaceful protesters.

According to a number of political analysts, the popularity of the ruling AK Party -- which has won three straight elections -- could decline if Erdogan does not resolve the crisis in a way acceptable to the general public.

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