Military

Turkish PM Blames Protests on Extremists

by Dorian Jones June 03, 2013

There have been more clashes in Turkey's capital, Ankara, between anti-government protesters and security forces, as civil unrest in the country continues. The prime minister condemned the protestors and called for calm. Protests are also continuing in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul.

Around 1,000 protestors clashed with security forces in the center of Ankara. Police used tear gas and water cannon to break up the demonstration, as nationwide unrest continued for a fourth day. The protests are aimed against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is accused of ruling in an increasingly authoritarian manner.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, meanwhile, appealed for calm, defending the right to protest and telling the protestors their message had been heard.

But Prime Minister Erdogan, speaking ahead of a visit to North African countries, continued his attack on the demonstrators, accusing them of being marginal and pawns of the main opposition party.

Thousands of people gathered Monday in Gezi Park in the heart of Istanbul, where the nationwide unrest began as a protest against the construction of a shopping mall there, in preparation for another protest. The overwhelming majority of the protestors are young but appear to represent a large cross section of society. There are no visible signs of the mainstream political parties, and the protest still appears to be made up of people not associated with country's political parties.

Many demonstrators are angry at the prime minister's latest attack. 'The prime minister's address to the people I find it extremely provocative and alienating. I think with every speech he is making, he is losing it, he is losing more and more support,' said one.

Despite calls from Turkey's political rulers to end the protests, few people expect an early end.

'Turkish people can't act immediately; it is very difficult to make fire on them. But when it starts, it's hard to stop. Because we are not (a) very reactive people. It's an accumulation after 10 years; you have to listen to these people as well,' said one man.

While there was a carnival atmosphere among the protesters in Gezi Park on Monday, there was also concern that the violence which occurred between demonstrators and security forces in Istanbul on the previous three nights might be repeated.



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