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Police have withdrawn from Istanbul's Taksim Square, the center of mass protests.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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid