Turkish Riots Continue

The Secularist riots which have engulfed Istanbul, continued for a second week yesterday as protesters who had decided to weather the Turkish Government’s tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets, regrouped in Gezi Park where unrest and civil disorder continued into this morning, as government bulldozers moved into Taksim Square (site of much of yesterday evening’s rioting), to clear away debris and abandoned barricades.

Written by Chris White

Although today the main body of rioting was located in the new redoubt of Istanbul’s Gezi Park, yesterday’s rioting was mainly centred around Taksim Square, which had been the main scene of the civil disturbances since they began on May 31st.

Last night was the last night that protesters occupied Taksim Square as they converged on the area having already been driven off several times, for a final pitched battle with riot police, only to be repelled with water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. The die-hards in the crowd have now relocated to Gezi Park where today they have erected new barricades and reignited their civil disorder directed against Turkey’s current government.

The protests initially started over plans by the Turkish authorities to redevelop Gezi Park however, they soon progressed into a major protest over the widely perceived increase in Prime Minister Erdogan’s authoritarianism and intention to Islamise Turkey’s traditionally secular society, by passing measures such as restricting the sale of alcohol.

Initially the demonstrations were tolerated however, once their permits had expired the Turkish Government ordered its police forces to roll up the protests thus sparking widespread violence.

Erdogan defended the actions of Turkish police claiming that the original demonstration had been hijacked by people determined to do harm to Turkish society.

In a televised speech from the Turkish Parliament Erdogan said: “To those who are at Taksim and elsewhere taking part in the demonstrations with sincere feelings: I call on you to leave those places and to end these incidents and I send you my love.- But for those who want to continue with the incidents I say: ‘It’s over.’ As of now we have no tolerance for them.”

Erdogan then offered “peaceful demonstrators” the opportunity to meet with a government delegation consisting of various actors, singers, authors and other Turkish celebrities to discuss differences. However, protest leaders told BBC reporters that they had received no such delegation from the Prime Minister and would refuse to meet with one in any event.

It estimated that so far approximately 600 Turkish police and 5,000 demonstrators have been treated for wounds and injuries sustained during the rioting.

Similar yet smaller protests have broken out across Turkey, including in the Turkish capital Ankara.

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