Turkey protests

Anti-government protests continue in Turkey

Anti-government protests continue in Turkey
Mon Jun 3, 2013 12:42:52

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Turkey's four biggest cities and clashed with riot police firing tear gas for a third day in the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years.

For much of Sunday, the atmosphere in Istanbul's Taksim Square was festive, with some people chanting for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign and others dancing.

In the nearby Besiktas neighborhood, riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to keep crowds away from Erdogan's office in Dolmabahce Palace, a former Ottoman residence on the shores of the Bosphorus.

There were similar scenes in Ankara's main Kizilar Square, with police raiding a shopping complex in the city's center and detaining several hundred.

Demonstrators say they are alarmed with the rising power of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party has won plaudits for its democratic and economic reforms but has recently become more restrictive on social issues.

That has alarmed secular Turks such as Filiz Polat who, along with more than 100,000 demonstrators, have defied the prime minister and marched on the city center since last week.

Muammer Guler, the interior minister, told the Hurriyet newspaper that there had been more than 200 demonstrations in 67 cities.

Hundreds of injuries have been reported.

Erdogan on Sunday renewed his calls for an end to the disturbances, saying: "If you love this country, if you love Istanbul, do not fall for these games."

He blamed the main secular opposition party of inciting the crowds, whom he called "a few looters", and said the redevelopment would go ahead.

Turkey is due to hold local and presidential elections next year in which Erdogan is expected to stand, followed by parliamentary polls in 2015.

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