Protests shift to Erdogan’s
offices in IstanbulFresh street clashes between protesters, police put growing
pressure on Turkish government.Ire
against Erdogan's government continues in Turkish streetsMiddle East Online ISTANBUL:
Turkey's Islamist-rooted government faced growing pressure on Monday after angry
demonstrators clashed for a third night with police in a nationwide wave of
Police fired tear gas and water cannon Sunday at
protesters who marched on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's offices in
Istanbul and Ankara.
Dictator, resign!... We will resist until we
win," yelled the crowds, in the latest of a string of protests that have by some
accounts left hundreds injured.
Police had withdrawn on Saturday from Istanbul's
main Taksim Square, the symbolic heart of demonstrations that started over an
unpopular building project nearby and boiled over into a general protest against
Crowds of whistling, flag-waving protestors
continued to cover Taksim Square but the flashpoint shifted late Sunday to the
area near Erdogan's nearby Istanbul base AFP reporters there saw police disperse thousands
of demonstrators and incidents continued into early Monday.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said earlier that
more than 1,700 people had been arrested in the unrest nationwide, though most
have since been released.
He said 58 civilians and 115 security officers had
been injured over several days of protests, although rights groups have put the
number of injured higher.
A doctors' union in Ankara said more than 400
civilians had been injured there including some with serious head wounds.
Rights groups have denounced the violence that
police meted out to demonstrators and Turkey's Western allies have appealed for
The unrest began as a local outcry against plans
to redevelop Gezi Park, a rare green spot near Taksim, but after a heavy-handed
police response the protests spread to other districts -- and then to dozens of
cities across Turkey.
Accused by critics of pushing an increasingly
conservative and authoritarian agenda, Erdogan's government is facing the
biggest protests since it took power in 2002.
Erdogan on Sunday renewed his call for an end to
If you love this country, if you love Istanbul,
do not fall for these games," he said in televised comments.
Protests 'harm Turkey's reputation'
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned in a
Twitter message: "The continuation of these protests... will bring no benefits
but will harm the reputation of our country which is admired both in the region
and the world.Guler estimated the cost at more than 20 million
liras (eight million euros, $10 million).
The prime minister had insisted on Saturday that
his government would press ahead with the park redevelopment, although he said
it may not include a shopping mall, as protesters fear.
He also admitted "some mistakes" in the police
response and called off the police from Taksim on Saturday.
On Sunday however, he confirmed a plan to build a
mosque on Taksim Square -- a sensitive issue as he faces growing accusations of
trying to impose an Islamic agenda.
Amnesty International said some protesters had
been left blinded by the massive quantities of tear gas and pepper spray used by
Human Rights Watch said the number of injured was
higher than official figures suggested and that one protester had lost an eye
after police shot him with a plastic bullet.
Turkey's NATO allies Britain,
France and the United States have all urged the Erdogan government to exercise
They were joined Sunday by the European Union,
whose foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton released a statement condemning the
"disproportionate use of force" by police and calling for dialogue.
Turkey's southeastern neighbour Iraq on Sunday
warned of the implications for the region.
"Adopting violence will cause it
to spread, which will affect the situation in the region," said Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki in an emailed statement.
"We call for restraint and for
Erdogan's populist government is often accused of trying
to make predominantly Muslim but staunchly secular Turkey more
A controversial new law introduced by his ruling
Justice and Development Party aims to restrict the sale and advertising of
It's not about the Gezi Park project anymore. It
has become a movement against the government which is interfering more and more
in our private life," said Hamdi, a protestor in Ankara who would not give his
The government has also been criticised for its
crackdown on opponents including Kurds, journalists and the military
They call me a dictator," Erdogan said in a
speech on Sunday. "If they liken a humble servant to a dictator, then I am at a
loss for words."
His AKP party has won three successive
parliamentary elections, grabbing almost 50 percent of the vote the last time
around in 2011.
But one indication of the growing resistance to
his agenda has come at nine o'clock for the last few evenings.
Across Ankara and Istanbul, residents open their
apartment windows to rattle saucepans, blow whistles and shout anti-government
slogans into the streets below.