A series of anti-government protests have erupted in several cities across Turkey, with most converging upon the country’s largest city, Istanbul. On Monday (June 3), thousands gathered at the city’s Taksim Square after swarming the area last Friday (May 31) to protest the demolition of a park. The movement has since changed, now calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has sought to join the European Union since 1987 and has embraced many of its more liberal values. However, the 59-year-old Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party have recently sought tighter restrictions on alcohol and voiced plans to return many of the city’s liberal youth to stricter Muslim and conservative standards. This stance from Erdogan has ultimately sparked many of the sporadic protests.
Although there has been alarmingly scant coverage by mainstream media, many protesters have taken to Twitter to post photos of police clashing with demonstrators and violent images of riot squads using rough tactics to control the crowd. As reported by Al Jazeera, police have been firing canisters of tear gas at the crowds gathered in the square and in the capital city of Ankara.
The website PolicyMic gathered several photos of the clashes at the protests, with some showing gruesome images of blooded protesters. CNN reports that a handful of angry residents who initially held sit-ins in Taksim Square allegedly attacked police, who then responded with force. Amnesty International and Greenpeace have both spoken out against the heavy-handed police response.
In a speech on Saturday (June 1), Erdogan admitted publicly that the police have been aggressive in their attempts to quell the crowds.
“There have been errors in the actions of the security forces, especially with regard to use of pepper gas. Right now that is being investigated, researched,” said Erdogan. “There is an error there, sure. When it is used excessively we are against it as well. And in fact there was such excess.”
Despite Erdogan’s acknowledgement of excessive force, he sees himself as a benevolent leader and called the protestors “looters” and “bums” while also blaming Twitter as well.
Check out photos of the Turkey protests in the gallery on the following pages.
Photo: RT Network