News / Middle East

Turkish Protesters March Ahead of Planned Strike

Anti-government protesters shout slogans as they stand on barricades in Istanbul June 16, 2013.
Anti-government protesters shout slogans as they stand on barricades in Istanbul June 16, 2013.
VOA News
Protesters continued to demonstrate in the Turkish capital, Ankara, ahead of a nationwide strike Monday to express disapproval of the forced evictions of demonstrators from an Istanbul Park.

Ankara riot police used tear gas and water cannons to try to disperse thousands of protesters marching late Sunday. Some protesters pointed lasers at the police operating water cannons to get them to stop.

Labor unions have planned a one-day strike Monday to support the protesters, though it is not clear how much the strike will affect daily life in Turkey.

On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told hundreds of thousands of supporters it was his "duty" to evict the activists from an Istanbul park. He said the two weeks of street protests were manipulated by "terrorists" and he dismissed opposition allegations that he was behaving like a dictator.

As he spoke, riot police in central Istanbul fired tear gas to stop protesters from regrouping in Istanbul's main Taksim Square, which has been the center of protests against Erdogan's government.

Security forces used tear gas and water cannons to clear the park on Saturday evening.

Protests that started two weeks ago against government plans to tear down the park for new construction quickly built into nationwide protests against Erdogan. The demonstrators accuse him of imposing his conservative Islamic views on the country.

The prime minister told protesters last week that he would put redevelopment plans for the park on hold until a court rules on them. He also said he would hold a referendum on the issue if the court rules in the government's favor.

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