4 June 2013, 06:16

Turkish riots 'only in a few cities' - Erdogan

турция протест демонстрация полиция Анкара беспорядки

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that riots did not occur all over the country but only in a few large cities. In his view, the instigators of the mass unrest were those "who lost the past elections."

He was also confident that the situation would soon normalize.

Meanwhile, in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and other cities, protesters continued to clash with police who used tear gas and water cannons to maintain control.

According to various sources up to 3 million people have been injured and one person is dead.

In an interview with the Voice of Russia an eyewitness stated that the police were extremely aggressive and had set fire to tents where people were sleeping in Gezi Park.

According to the witness the riots in Turkey were triggered by the brutality of the police in Turkey.

Turkey clashes re-erupted, PM Erdogan defiant

Clashes re-erupted in Turkish cities Monday as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan shrugged off mass protests against his Islamic-rooted government that have left at least one man dead.

Despite facing the fiercest challenge to his rule since he came to office in 2002, with protestors hurling stones and burning cars, Erdogan left Turkey earlier Monday on an official visit to Morocco, where he insisted the situation in his country was "calming down".

He earlier rejected talk of a "Turkish Spring" uprising by Turks who accuse him of trying to impose Islamic reforms on the secular state.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protestors massing near his Istanbul office and the nearby stadium of Besiktas football team late Monday as the clashes that have rocked scores of cities entered a fifth day.

As white fumes hung in the air in surrounding streets, thousands of other protestors gathered on Taksim Square, the symbolic heart of the protests.

"Tayyip, resign!" they yelled, waving red flags and banners and whistling.

Police forces also used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protestors in the capital Ankara early on Tuesday.

Demonstrators told AFP police targeted protestors who threw stones and slabs at the security forces.

Erdogan has not flinched in the face of the protests, which he blamed on "extremists" and "dissidents" among his opponents.

"The situation is now calming down... On my return from this visit, the problems will be solved," he told a news conference in Rabat.

"The Republican People's Party and other dissidents have a hand in these events," he said, naming the main Turkish opposition.

A medics' union earlier Monday said a man was killed when a car ploughed into protestors in Istanbul on Sunday.

The unrest began as a local outcry against plans to build over Gezi Park, a rare green spot adjoining Taksim Square.

After a heavy police response it grew into wider anti-government protests in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities.

"We have had enough of the way Erdogan understands democracy and the way he wants to dictate his rules," said Ozgur Aksoy, a young engineer demonstrating in Gezi Park on Monday.

Rights groups and doctors said more than a thousand people had been injured in clashes in Istanbul and 700 in Ankara.

The government's latest estimate on Sunday put the figure at 58 civilians and 115 security forces injured, with clashes in 67 cities. It also said more than 1,700 people had been arrested across the country and that many had since been released.

Erdogan dismissed the protestors as "vandals", stressing that he was democratically elected.

His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won three successive parliamentary elections, but opponents have expressed mounting concern that Turkey is moving toward conservative Islam.

Voice of Russia, AFP


Protests are about Erdogan’s style of leadership, not threat to Turkish secular system - expert

Turkey has been hit by the worst violent protests in recent years. More than 1,700 people have been arrested after clashes with police in over 60 cities across the country. Here's how it all began. Meanwile protesters say the Turkish government is becoming increasingly authoritarian with Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) trying to impose conservative Islamic values on the officially secular country.

Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and the chairman of the Istanbul-based think tank EDAM says that there’s no unity between the rulers of the country. He also says that Erdogan’s popularity wasn’t significantly undermined by the protests.

"Erdogan to this day remains one of the most popular, and by far, politicians of Turkey. And these protests have not really significantly challenged Erdogan’s popularity to my belief because most of the people who were part of these protest movements were in any case not part of Erdogan’s constituency. But what this shows is that Erdogan will find it more difficult in coming weeks and months to continue to operate the way that he has in the past, which was in essence to leverage and to rely on his majority in parliament to push through initiatives that for some of Turkish people are seen as an unwanted intervention in their private lives and, for instance, the government passed a legislation very recently that severely constrains the sales marketing and consumption of alcohol and that legislation was passed in parliament without any really due consultation with all the stakeholders in Turkey and that gave rise to this type of reaction. Then the Prime Minister went on to protect this legislation on the basis of religious principles, which was perceived as a provocation by Turkey’s more secular constituencies and these are all the reasons why we have seen this outburst of frustration over the weekend. So, there is no imminent threat to add on in Turkey, again Erdogan is the most popular politician, his party is very strong in parliament. However, they will need to now face that all the stakes for him, if he wants to continue in this polarizing style, are going to be higher going forward.

Mr.Ulgen also says that these protests are not about the threat to the Turkish secular system, but about the Erdogan’s style of leadership.

"The protests today were not so much about the track to secularism in Turkey. They were certainly people among the protestors who felt that secular principles were being undermined by the Erdogan government. But these protests are about something else. They are about the polarizing attitude of Erdogan and it goes beyond the secular conservative division in Turkey. There are people within the conservative camp who traditionally have voted for Erdogan that also are part of this movement. They are also starting to be worried about the style of leadership. So, it is not just about the track to secularism. It is really about the style of leadership that Erdogan has demonstrated in recent past."

Turkey returning to normal - Erdogan

According to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan the situation in Turkey is returning to normal after anti-government demonstrations and clashes with the police spread throughout the country last week.

He expressed confidence that by his return from a trip to North Africa on Thursday all problems will be resolved.

The unrest began in Istanbul when plans were announced to replace a park with a shopping center and then spread to other cities when police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters.

The demonstrators pelted policemen with stones and demanded the resignation of the government.

According to various sources, 500 people were injured.

Istanbul protests are 'no Turkish Spring' - PM Erdogan

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says four days of anti-government protests do not constitute a Turkish Spring. At a news conference before a trip to Morocco, he said the protests were organised by extremists and accused the opposition of provoking "his citizens".

On Monday evening, thousands of demonstrators again gathered in Taksim Square, the focus of the recent protests.

Many shouted "Tayyip, resign!" while waving red flags and banners and blowing whistles, according to the AFP news agency.

Police also fired tear gas to disperse protesters near Mr Erdogan's office in Istanbul for the fourth consecutive night, AFP reported.

In another development, a public sector trade union confederation, Kesk, says it will begin a two-day strike starting on Tuesday in support.

The left-wing confederation accused the government of being anti-democratic and carrying out "state terror".

The protests initially targeted plans to build on a treasured Istanbul park but have spread into nationwide unrest.

The first death in the unrest has been reported, with doctors saying a man was killed after being hit by a taxi.

The demonstrator, 20-year-old Mehmet Ayvalitas, died after the car ignored warnings to stop and ploughed into a crowd of protestors on Sunday in the Mayis district of Istanbul, said the Turkish Doctors' Union.

White House urges all parties in Turkey to refrain from provocations

The White House urged protesters and police in Turkey on Monday to refrain from violence and said the United States would continue to work with Turkey on the conflict in Syria and other international issues.

"We have concerns about some of the response, but we certainly expect the Turkish government to work through this," White House spokesman Jay Carney said when asked about the rioting that has spread since Friday, injuring hundreds of people in Turkey.

Carney also stressed the need for Turkey to allow peaceful protests and said called for an investigation into the violence.

Wealthy Turks heavily involved in Ankara protests

As a weekend of protest in Turkey left the country reeling, with thousands of dissidents taking to the streets after a brutal police crackdown, both the rich and the poor come out on the streets to protest against the government policies. 

The Youtube video recently released by Voice of Russia's correspondent vividly shows the protests in Turkey involve both the rich and the poor.

The shootage shows the wealthy Turks protesting against the state's current policies in a popular shopping center in Ankara.

Turkish police fire tear gas at protesters in Ankara

Turkish police are using tear gas against the opposition in Ankara, a Reuters witness said.

The law enforcement officers were targeting a groups of some 1,000 protesters, most of them young people, as they were advancing towards the capital’s Kizilay Square demanding the resignation of PM Erdogan. The violent confrontation is now in its fourth successive day.

Turkey president says protesters' message 'received'

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul urged calm on Monday after days of violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters and promised them their message had been "received".

"Democracy does not only mean elections," Gul was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying on the fourth day of nationwide anti-government protests that left dozens wounded.

"The messages were delivered with good intentions have been received."

Turkey protests may get 'extreme' - expert

Protests are raging in Turkey’s Istanbul following the authority’s decision to build a shopping center on the Gezi Park. Demonstrators are allegedly storming offices of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). A Voice of Russia correspondent reports from the ground.

“Many people oppose the growing Islamization of Turkey under Erdogan,” Semyon Bagdasarov, a Russian Duma’s foreign affairs advisor, told the Voice of Russia.

The foreign affairs pundit doesn’t rule out an extreme outcome for the spiraling unrest in the country.

Russia’s embassy in Turkey has no information on any injured among its nationals.

The VoR correspondent says the rally has escalated far beyond its initial cause. It’s not just about the Gezi Park now, he says. The redevelopment plans to tear it down were but a spark that triggered a wave of the nation’s outrage at the government’s policies.

Both sides of the conflict have come up with their own numbers of the people wounded in the clashes. Official estimates put their number at 115 police troops, with 58 people admitted in hospitals, while Turkey’s medical trade union say there are 880 in-patients in the country’s hospitals as a result of the rioting.

Over 2,000 demonstrators have been arrested since the clashes broke out over the weekend.

US calls Turkish security forces to 'exercise restraint'

Amid the ongoing anti-government protests in Turkey, the White House said in a statement that all parties should "calm the situation".

The White House in particular urged security forces to "exercise restraint."

In a statement released on Sunday, spokeswoman Laura Lucas said the US believes peaceful public demonstrations "are a part of democratic expression."

The US previously criticised the security forces for their initial response to the protest.

Turkish police fire tear gas to disperse protesters in Istanbul

Police fired tear gas to disperse protestors Sunday near Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office in Istanbul on the third day of nationwide anti-government protests.

Protests sparked by a controversial government building plan in Istanbul flared again late Sunday after spreading over the weekend to other Turkish cities including the capital Ankara.

The Voice of Russia correspondent Olga Haldyz reports:

"This night, a group of about 100 people in masks threw stones at the police near the office of the administration of Turkey’s prime minister in the district of Besiktas in Istanbul. The police had to retreat.

Later, a group of protestors, who were going to the Taksim Square, joined the people in masks. They also threw stones and smoke pellets at the police.

Some of the protestors are still standing in front of the administration’s building.

In the evening of Sunday, tens of thousands of protestors gathered at the Taksim Square again. A group of about 50 people carried a portrait of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of Kurdish separatists, much to dissatisfaction of many other demonstrators.

In Turkey’s capital Ankara, people started to gather in the city’s central square Kizilay since midday. Police are not letting the crowd to the prime minister’s administration’s building. The protesters have built barricades and threw stones at the police. Sporadic clashes between the protesters and the police still take place.

In another Turkish city, Izmir, a clash between protestors and police is taking place in the district of Alsancak. A group of demonstrators has gathered near the building of the local department of Turkey’s ruling Party for Peace and Democracy.

Protests are also under way in several parts of the city of Adana in Turkey’s south. Police are blocking the way to the building of the ruling party’s local department."

Turkey swept by anti-government protests: 2 dead, more than 1,000 wounded

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. Amnesty International refers to reports of two dead, people in Taksim Square claim the number is higher.

The Turkish authorities should switch over from foreign policy problems to domestic ones, the head of the Centre for Eastern Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Volodin believes.

In an interview for The Voice of Russia he stressed that the promotion of Islamisation ideas becomes a more irritating factor for the unreligious part of Turkish society with every passing day and off-puts Turkey in the eyes of Brussels.

The protest movement against the government has been growing stronger for two days. Unrest began as a protest against the Istanbul authorities’ decision to destroy a historical park in the city centre. Later it acquired a political nature. Now the protesters’ main demand is resignation of Erdogan’s Islamist government which defies democracy in an attempt to impose the Sharia law on the country. This was increased with many people’s discontent with official Istanbul’s pro-western anti-Syrian policy.

Igor Mityakov, press attaché of Russia’s Embassy in Turkey, told the VoR:

“We have regular communication with the Consulate General and local authorities. Neither incidents with Russian tourists nor attacks on places where they are spending their holidays have been reported”.

Turks in Russia support Istanbul protests against cutting down park

A rally took place in Istanbul on Saturday against the government’s plans to cut down a park called Gezi near the Taksim Square. In fact, this is the only park in Istanbul’s center.

Turkish citizens who live in Russia also rallied on this day in Moscow to express their support to the protestors in Istanbul. The rally started at 6 p.m. Moscow time in a park near the Novodevichy convent.

The rally’s organizers had announced about their action on the Web beforehand. For this purpose, they have even created a special website.

The rally brought together about 100 peoples from all walks of life – students, businesspeople, financiers, engineers and construction workers. Some of them took their wives and children to the rally.

Some participants of the rally had come to Moscow to commemorate Nazım Hikmet, a Turkish poet who is buried at a cemetery near the Novodevichy convent. (On July 3, it will be 50 years since Hikmet’s death.)

Even fans of two Turkish football teams, “Besiktas” and “Galatasaray”, who are usually irreconcilable rivals, stood shoulder-to-shoulder at this rally.

The participants sang songs glorifying Mustafa Kemal, Turkey’s president in the 1920s and the 1930s, who made Turkey a Western-style secular state. They photographed themselves with the Novodevichy convent at the background and immediately published the photos in Twitter.

Quite a few passers-by came up to the protesters, asking what was going on. When they learned that these people were protesting against cutting down a park in Istanbul, they expressed solidarity with them, because Moscow’s residents, like Istanbul’s ones, realize very well how badly gigantic megalopolises need parks and fresh air.

About one hour after the rally started, police appeared and asked the protestors to disperse. The majority obeyed this order, but a small group of people went to the Red Square to continue the rally there.

The rally’s organizers say that on Monday, they will come to the Novodevichy Park again.

Voice of Russia, TASS, RIA, BBC, AFP, dpa, Wall Street Journal, RT, Reuters

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