News / Europe

Turkish Police Begin Withdrawal After Clashes With Protesters

Riot police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 1, 2013.
Riot police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 1, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Police have withdrawn from Istanbul's Taksim Square, the center of mass protests. The move comes after a second day of clashes between security forces and protestors. The protests, which started over the building of a shopping mall, have turned into a confrontation over the rule of the Prime Minister.  

Taksim Square has been the center of two days of clashes between protesters and security forces. Thousands of demonstrators, many waving Turkish flags, filled the square. The police withdrawal is seen as an attempt to defuse an escalating confrontation, although clashes are still occurring in nearby areas.

Throughout Saturday, the center of Istanbul resembled a war zone, with police fighting running battles with demonstrators. Doctors say over 1,000 people have been injured. Speaking Saturday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged the police may have used excessive force, but claimed the protest was an attack on democracy.

He said the parliamentary system fully functions in this country and every method other than elections is anti-democratic.

Riot police clash with demonstrators after they used tear gas and pressurized water in a dawn raid Friday, Turkey, May 31, 2013.Riot police clash with demonstrators after they used tear gas and pressurized water in a dawn raid Friday, Turkey, May 31, 2013.
x
Riot police clash with demonstrators after they used tear gas and pressurized water in a dawn raid Friday, Turkey, May 31, 2013.
Riot police clash with demonstrators after they used tear gas and pressurized water in a dawn raid Friday, Turkey, May 31, 2013.
The clashes erupted Friday after police forcibly evicted a peaceful sit-in against the building of a shopping mall in a park in the heart of the city. But public outrage over that crackdown has seen the protest evolve into a wider demonstration against the government.  

Many demonstrators accuse the government of becoming more authoritarian. Observers say in the last few months security forces have been cracking down hard on public dissent. Last week the government rushed through parliament a controversial law restricting alcohol use, fueling fears the Islamic-rooted ruling party is pursuing a religious agenda, a charge it denies.

The prime minister enjoys strong public support, but is a polarizing figure. The growing violence has put growing pressure on the prime minister with international calls for restraint from many of Ankara's allies continuing to grow, while Turkish President Abdullah Gul described the situation as very worrisome.

In solidarity with the Istanbul demonstrators, protests also broke out in the capital, Ankara, and many other Turkish cities, where protesters have battled with police and chanted slogans against Erdogan's government.

Analysts say the unrest signifies growing discontent over the policies of the Islamist-dominated government, which some accuse of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Mine Eder, a political science professor at Istanbul's Bogazici University, said the movement is drawing from a broad range of the Turkish population.

"I think is sort of a spontaneous civil movement that started with the ownership of the trees and sort of turned into this 'we've had enough with this government and with this style of governance and with the unwillingness of the government to listen to us,'" said Eder.

Eder said many were frustrated at a perceived decline in freedom of expression following a series of harsh police crackdowns on protests, including at this year's May Day rally. Others, she said, were frustrated at high unemployment rates.

She said the government's response shows it is concerned that the protests could spiral out of control, potentially challenging its rule.

Rights groups have already expressed concern at the authorities' use of force in dealing with the protests. Amnesty International said Friday that the Turkish authorities should "stop using excessive force against peaceful protesters" and called for an investigation.  A U.S. State Department spokesman said Washington believes Turkey's long-term stability, security and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association.

Protesters were initially upset at the proposed development at Istanbul's Gezi Park, next to the square, which they say is one of the few remaining green spots in that part of the city. The park faces demolition to make way for the construction of a shopping center.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: M H from: Turkey
June 02, 2013 3:07 AM
hey America, this is not about a couple of trees... sure you are free to think that... but really... its about Muslim Brotherhood Islamic contamination of our nation. Turkey's economy is in a free fall... Islamic repression and suppression is all over here... secret police... torture and abuse of our women by the Islamic government


by: Anonymous
June 01, 2013 9:48 PM
leaders should always follow the People and what they feel. Obviously the leader in Turkey should abolish moves to disrupt the park.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid