News / Middle East

Renewed Anti-Government Unrest Persists in Turkey

Demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government protest in Istanbul's Kadikoy district Sept. 15, 2013.
Demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government protest in Istanbul's Kadikoy district Sept. 15, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Istanbul is again witnessing anti-government protests. The unrest erupted last week following the death of demonstrator Ahmet Atakan in the provincial city of Hatay near the Syrian border.

The circumstances of the 22-year-old's death are in dispute. Police say he fell from a building but demonstrators say he was struck by a pepper gas canister.

Thousands of people gathered at different points across Istanbul to protest.

The largely peaceful protests were broken up by riot police using water cannons and pepper gas. Demonstrators retaliated by building barricades and setting fires in the streets to dissipate the effects of the gas. Security forces and the government have declared unlawful protests will be met with a firm response. However, the crackdown has led to further protests against police tactics.
Turkey clash - video clip

Turkey Clashes video clipi
September 16, 2013 12:43 PM
Turkey Clashes video clip

"These protests would never have got as big as they did if the police did not use the harsh techniques, with all the water cannons and pepper gas," said Yasemin Congar, a writer on Turkish affairs.
Thousands gathered Sunday in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district, the center of the Asian side of the city, to protest police tactics. The district is a stronghold of opponents of the ruling AK Party and has been the epicenter of the latest protests.
Sunday’s demonstration ended in violence, with police using water cannon, gas and rubber bullets. Local media report several people were injured.

The latest unrest follows the early summer nationwide anti-government protests across the country, against what demonstrators say is Prime Minster Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian style of governance. While the current protests are not on the scale of earlier protests, Erdogan is promising a firm response, claiming his government is a victim of a conspiracy.

"Those people who know that they cannot win at the ballot box set their hopes on the streets," Erdogan said. "We won’t allow democracy to be interrupted. Our youth will defend democracy and won’t allow a new September 12."
September 12 is the anniversary date of the 1980 military coup in Turkey, when the army intervened after years of political violence. But journalist Congar says rather than a conspiracy, the prime minister is facing an increasingly politicized section of Turkish society that feels alienated by the government.
"The people, especially in Istanbul, but also around the country, have seen that, yes they can go out and shout they will be heard and they will be heard around the world," Congar said. "And I think that’s a sense of empowerment and I don’t think they are going sit back and shut up when something challenges them."

But with the prime minister seeing the protestors as a threat to democracy rather than as people exercising their democratic rights, observers warn the current cycle of protests and crackdown by the security forces are likely to continue. Such a scenario could well be played out in an environment of electoral politics, with Turkey set to hold important local and presidential polls next year.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Gen. K. H. from: Turkey
September 16, 2013 8:22 AM
Turkey has become a cruel repressive islamic regime. Why world does nothing??? why?? Muslim Brotherhood are taking over our country please see - they are killing us here. Turkey is a disaster about to implode
In Response

by: turk from: canada
September 16, 2013 10:34 AM
Brother, demonstration is the basic human right. But if everyone go to street, and waste of government resources (police, money of the Country), how can a country develop. Stop all unnecessary B$%#, and focus on for the development of Turkey.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs