Protests Rage Against Erdogan

Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators in central Istanbul , wounding scores of people and prompting rallies in other cities in the fiercest anti-government protests for years,according to ABC NEWS.

Dozens were injured in the demonstration against plans to raze a park across from Istanbul's Taksim Square to build a shopping mall, resulting in a wider outcry against prime minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.

A peaceful protest at Taksim's Gezi Park started late on Monday after trees were torn up under a government redevelopment plan, with Friday's violence erupting after a dawn police raid on demonstrators who had been camped out for days.

Broken glass and rocks were strewn across a main shopping street near Taksim. Primary school children ran crying from the clouds of tear gas while tourists caught by surprise scurried to get back to luxury hotels lining the square.

"This isn't just about trees anymore, it's about all of the pressure we're under from this government. We're fed up - we don't like the direction the country is headed in," said 18-year-old student Mert Burge, who came to support the protesters after reading on Twitter about the police use of tear gas.

"We will stay here tonight and sleep on the street if we have to," he said.

Mr Erdogan has overseen a transformation in Turkey during his decade in power, turning its economy from crisis-prone into Europe's fastest-growing.

He remains by far Turkey's most popular politician, and is widely viewed as its most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern secular republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire 90 years ago.

But there have also been protests against the government's stance on the conflict in neighbouring Syria, a tightening of restrictions on alcohol sales, and warnings against public displays of affection.

"We do not have a government, we have Tayyip Erdogan ... Even AK Party supporters are saying they have lost their mind, they are not listening to us," said Koray Caliskan, a political scientist at Bosphorus University who attended the protest.

"This is the beginning of a summer of discontent."

Thousands chanting for the government to resign gathered at a park in the centre of Ankara, where police earlier fired tear gas to disperse several dozen opposition supporters trying to reach the AKP headquarters.

Protesters also rallied at two locations in Izmir, according to pictures on social media.

.

A total of 12 people, including a pro-Kurdish MP and a Reuters photographer, suffered trauma injuries and hundreds suffered respiratory problems due to tear gas.

Some people were injured when a wall they were climbing collapsed as they tried to flee clouds of tear gas.

Amnesty International said it was concerned by "the use of excessive force" by the police against what had started out as a peaceful protest.

Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European parliament rapporteur on Turkey, also voiced concern.

M.D

Share