News / Europe

Turkish Deputy PM Apologizes to Protesters

Turkish youths shout anti-government slogans as they march in Ankara, Turkey, June 4, 2013.
Turkish youths shout anti-government slogans as they march in Ankara, Turkey, June 4, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Thousands of Turkish anti-government protesters marched again Tuesday,  even after the deputy prime minister said the government has "learned its lesson."

Demonstrators filled central Ankara and the main square in Istanbul as night fell Tuesday, defying government appeals to end their protests.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said it was wrong to use "excessive force" against the marchers. But he refused to apologize to those who he says have destroyed property and interfered with people's freedom.
He said he was apologizing to the environmentally-minded protesters injured by police during a demonstration against government plans to demolish Gezi Park, adjacent to Istanbul's Taksim Square.

The nationwide unrest was sparked last Friday after police violently evicted demonstrators who were peacefully protesting against the planned redevelopment of one of the few parks in central Istanbul. The deputy prime minister also said he was prepared to meet with protestors.

He said he would find an opportunity to meet the youngsters who held the initial protest.

  • Riot police officers gather in central Ankara, Turkey, June 10, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester gestures during a demonstration in central Ankara, June 9, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters remove bricks from a sidewalk to build a barricade in central Ankara, June 9, 2013.
  • Riot police chase protesters at Kizilay Square in central Ankara, June 9, 2013.
  • Supporters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan listen to his speech at the Ankara airport, June 9, 2013.
  • Supporters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cheer upon his arrival at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, June 7, 2013.
  • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters after arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, June 7, 2013.
  • Pedestrians walk among tents set up by protesters in Gezi park, Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 6, 2013.
  • People observe a destroyed urban bus with a destination sign that reads ''This bus goes to Dictator'' at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 6, 2013.
  • Thousands of protesters gather for another rally at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3, 2013.
  • Protesters carry the Turkish flag and shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration at Gezi Park near Taksim Squar, Istanbul, June 3, 2013.

The first reactions from demonstrators on Twitter and other social media have generally been skeptical. Many criticize the deputy prime minister for only condemning the police’s initial response to the protests and not the ongoing crackdown.

There were clashes in both Istanbul and the capital Ankara Monday night, with police using tear gas, water cannon and, according to some reports, plastic bullets. A 22-year-old protestor was shot dead in the southern city of Antakya near the Syrian border.

Many protestors are calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize. Much of the protesters' anger of the protests is direct against Erdogan, whom they accuse of acting in an increasingly authoritarian way. On Monday, during a visit to Morocco, the Turkish prime minister repeated his tough stance against the protestors, calling them "marginal" and claiming calm was returning to the country.

But pressure on the government continues to grow, with members of Turkey’s 240,000-strong public sector workers union launching a two-day nationwide strike Tuesday.

The leftist union is a strong critic of the government. Earlier this year, police raided its national offices, and dozens of its officials are on trial under the country’s anti-terrorism law.  

Observers warn the growing unrest has started to unnerve financial markets, and Turkey's stock market plunged on Monday. With no signs that the protesters are ready to quit, that nervousness could well continue.

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Comment Sorting
by: deniz from: diyarbakır
June 05, 2013 4:20 AM
People who participate in the demonstrations are mostly white Turks (the people belong to rich classes) and radical leftists. What make them ally are liberal economic politics and anti-Islamic feelings.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 04, 2013 10:31 PM
So this unrest was initiated by the disagreement of citizens to the revelopment of a park planned by the present Islamic government. Why demonstrators are against the plan? Is the plan related to Islam? Are they really marginal? How do they want to be the park? Is it a solution if PM puts off the redevelopment plan?

by: eyesopen from: Los Angeles
June 04, 2013 8:04 PM
He should apologise also for how his boss facilitated the flotilla to Gaza for his own political ends, putting people in harm's way, and placing Israel in an impossible situation. Erdogan destroyed the long history of good relations between the 2 countries, and poisoned the air with outrageous remarks. He was friends with Syria, before he switched direction, and Syria has always been a police state. Now, Turkey is inching towards being a police state, one that shows penguins on TV while there is blood in the streets.

by: Ahmet from: USA
June 04, 2013 5:13 PM
I want you to remind of that elitists/laicist/secularist minds/governments had persecuted over religious people for a long time in the past. They were looking for their rights making demonstrations such as right of education with their headscarf. They protested our government several times. But, you could not see any broken windows or official staffs. Generally, if leftist protestors join any demonstration, they begin to broke or fire everywhere. Lots of people were supporting the demonstration until some extremists or radicals or illegal groups join the demonstrations. Even our opposition party slowly started to recede its support. We can discuss each other. The protesters can protest our government. But lots of people support the government too. In arabic countries which live spring have just been kingdom who rule their countries by one person who gets the right from inborn for a long time. They do not have any democratic election or free speech. Yes, our prime minister has been electing three times by increasing his vote. And Turkish people can protest him and his party with the democratic ways, not violence. By the way, do not forget that Turkey is trying to solve PKK problem recently. Some countries do not want Turkey to solve that problem such as Iran etc. And today, Turkish police arrested Iranian agent who join among demonstrators in Ankara. Our secret intelligent (police and mit institutions) explained that around 250 secret agents joint among protestors. Some of them were arrested by Turkish authorities. By the way, first protestors who demand not to cut trees sued against some protestors firing or breaking or damaging public prosperities. You should know that the issue is not tree. Because this government have planted billions trees across the country. And you know, Koc University gave their students to join protestation by canceling their final exams. The same university cut lots of trees to establish their campus when Erdogan was mayor in Istanbul end of 1990s. Erdogan did not give any permission, but central government supported them at that time. These problems are like joke. But their real problems are different. As a result, you can not see any supporter behind arabic leader except police and army, but you can see lots of civilians (perhaps majority) supporting Turkish politician leaders. That is why social media rumors affected our people only two days, later they have recognized the play...

by: Kasam Ugliq from: Turkey
June 04, 2013 3:13 PM
hey Hasan... the bloodshed has already begun... look we put all of this on "you tube" - don't say you didn't know - because its all over the internet... Erdogan and his Muslim brotherhood terrorist organization must go... NOW... !!!
before Turkey becomes like Libya... we are not afraid
In Response

by: Goldie
June 04, 2013 7:48 PM
The whole world supports you, we in Egypt pray you topple that snake, and hopefully we can do the same. God speed

by: Hasan Gezi from: Turkey
June 04, 2013 1:25 PM
hey America it wasn't a "shopping Mall" that was about to be built... it was another filthy Mosque...!!! we are ruled not by the Turkish people will but by a Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization... do'nt tell me they are changing "tactics" on us - its insulting to Turks... the Muslim Brotherhood Government must leave Turkey NOW!!! before bloodshed begins...

by: sam from: Accra
June 04, 2013 9:39 AM
If such brutish force could be used against citizens because trees need to be pulled down and shopping malls build, then how would it be if the call was for the government to step down?
Any lessons from Syria?

by: Emel from: Diyarbakır
June 04, 2013 7:41 AM
It's as if all the turkey you show in protest.

by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
June 04, 2013 7:41 AM
its very wrong when the government just gets irritated and hence become wild because it has just seen some faces of opposition party members amongst the crowd as if they are not members of the public..infact,if governing party members have chosen to be ignorant,then they are someones slaves.

In Response

by: osman from: konya
June 04, 2013 10:58 AM
I think a government should be able to use excessive force to whom is damaging environment , claiming that they intend to protect trees and intend to protest government. What they damaged is public propety and government was selected to improve and protect our country against to both internal and external attack. Addition to that it is certain that they get some support from outside of country. Because Our government steped forward finishing kurdish problem

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