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Police Arrest Dozens Across Turkey

  • VOA News

Riot police fire tear gas toward protesters during clashes in Kennedy Street in central Ankara, Turkey, June 18, 2013.

Riot police fire tear gas toward protesters during clashes in Kennedy Street in central Ankara, Turkey, June 18, 2013.

Turkish police have raided homes and offices across the country, arresting dozens of people in a coordinated operation linked to three weeks of anti-government protests.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler confirmed Tuesday that 62 people were detained in Istanbul and 23 in the capital, Ankara. State broadcaster TRT also said another 13 people were held in Eskisehir, and there were more in other cities.

Police broke up a silent protest in Istanbul's Taksim Square by hundreds who were mimicking a lone man who stood silently for hours in a passive anti-government protest that has ignited Turkish social media. In Ankara, riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters who had gathered in and around the government quarter of Kizilay.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in her first remarks on the clashes, called for officials and security forces using excessive force to be punished.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the Turkish government urgently needs to "change police tactics and issue a clear signal for restraint."

The unrest has left five people dead, including one police officer, and about 7,500 injured.

Turkey Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a conference in Ankara, Turkey, June 18, 2013.

Turkey Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a conference in Ankara, Turkey, June 18, 2013.

Western countries have expressed concern to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan about police treatment of protesters.

Demonstrations started nearly three weeks ago against government plans to redevelop Gezi Park, which is one of the few green spaces left in the bustling city of Istanbul, and quickly have built into nationwide protests against Erdogan.

The prime minister's opponents accuse him of gradually eroding freedoms and secular values under his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development party - something he denies.

Earlier this week, Erdogan said the street protests were manipulated by "terrorists" and dismissed opposition allegations that he was behaving like a dictator.

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