ISTANBUL — Thousands of Turkish lawyers left courthouses Wednesday in a demonstration against detention of their colleagues amid Turkey's biggest anti-government protests in years. It comes as Turkey's prime minister met with a handful of protesters after a night of clashes in central Istanbul.
Outside Istanbul’s main court house, over 2,000 lawyers chanted “everywhere Taksim, everywhere resistance.” The protest by lawyers was in response to a crackdown by police on anti-government protesters in the city’s Taksim Square. One lawyer explains:
"The lawyers are protesting what he calls "the very bad things" that happened in Taksim Square," she said.
Addressing the lawyers, Ümit Kocasakal, head of Istanbul’s Bar Association, slammed the police crackdown.
"The use of gas canisters and plastic bullets is illegal and indiscriminately targeting anyone while disregarding citizens’ safety. Turkish protesters are not bugs to be killed by gassing but are human," said Kocasakal.
Until the early hours of Wednesday morning, security forces fought running battles with the demonstrators.
Up to a hundred lawyers were detained by police Tuesday while protesting in the Istanbul courthouse against the crackdown. All of have reportedly been released.
Taksim Square is under police control and the adjacent Gezi Park, while still occupied by protesters, is surrounded.
Government plans to redevelop the park prompted the initial protests that subsequently spiraled into the largest nationwide anti-government movement in the decade-long leadership of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan met Wednesday with a delegation of 11 students, academics and artists. Some protesters at Gezi Park and civic associations rejected the talks, saying the group had been handpicked by the government.
The prime minister is also due to meet with a popular singer who is being touted as a mediator. That move too has been rejected by many protest leaders.