World News

Turkish PM Blames Protests on Extremists

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused anti-government protesters of walking "arm-in-arm with terrorism," as he blamed "extremist elements" for three days of some of the most violent riots in years.

His comments Monday came as the Turkish Doctors' Association said a 20-year-old Turkish man died when a vehicle slammed into a crowd of protesters who were marching late Sunday. It was the first known death related to the demonstrations.

Speaking to reporters before departing on a planned four-day trip to North Africa, Mr. Erdogan dismissed the protests as the work of secularist enemies who never accepted the mandate of his Islamist AKP party, which has won three straight elections.

He rejected comparisons with the Arab Spring uprising, saying in televised comments that the protesters had no support in the general population. He gave no indication he was prepared to compromise.

Police in Istanbul and Ankara used tear gas early Monday to disperse protesters, some of whom had marched on Mr. Erdogan's offices.

Rights groups say hundreds of security personnel and protesters have been injured since Friday in the violence, pitting stone-throwing protesters against riot police firing tear gas and water cannons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday expressed concern about reports of excessive use of force by police and urged the Turkish government to uphold freedom of expression and exercise restraint. He also urged protesters "to avoid any provocation of violence."



Both Mr. Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul urged calm Monday. However, in contrast to the prime minister's comments, Mr. Gul defended the right of citizens to protest.

The demonstrations began as a demand to stop an urban redevelopment plan on park land, but have more broadly included criticism of Mr. Erdogan's government.

Turkey's Interior Ministry said Sunday more than 1,700 people had been detained since last week, but that most have since been released.

The police crackdown on protesters in Istanbul appeared to anger many secular Turks, who accuse Mr. Erdogan's decade-old, Islamist-rooted government of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

International rights groups have strongly criticized the crackdown as excessive.



"The United States supports full freedom of expression and assembly including the right of people to peaceful protest, because that is fundamental to any democracy. And we are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police, we obviously hope that there will a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force with respect to those kinds of incidents. And we urge all people involved those demonstrating and expressing their freedom of expression and those in the government to avoid any provocation of violence."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs