Obama's favorite "and most trusted" ally turned water cannons and tear gas on peaceful people observing a memorial for those he killed in recent protests.
Erdogan accused those involved in the protests in Turkey's main western cities of being disrespectful towards Islam.
Erdogan's vicious response to the people of Turkey's call for the return to democratic freedoms should put the brakes on the recent great push to move forward with Turkey's membership into the EU (here).
Atlas reader "P" in Turkey writes:
A huge gathering in Istanbul's Taksim
Square to honor the dead and injured of the movement styled the "Gezi
resistance" by secular Turks against Islamization and authoritarianism
has ended much as did the first phase of the resistance — in a shower
of pressurized water and tear gas.
Taksim was crowded by day and heavily packed in the
evening. There were red carnations
everywhere including around the
Ataturk monument at the feet of the statues of the founder of the
republic and his colleagues and two in his hand. The atmosphere was
peaceful and mildly festive. Children climbed on and gamboled about the
monument. There was the usual chanting of "shoulder to shoulder" and
some newer chants about "Everywhere is Taksim, the resistance will go
on, this is only the beginning."
Something new to me was people jumping while shouting and fluttering hands in the air, jazz dance style. I
got bored, though, and headed home at 8:15. My neighbor T, unbeknownst
to me had left at 8 thinking the crowd was so big that something was
bound to happen. I couldn't see the police from my spot at the top of
Istiklal street right near the monument, but another neighbor C reported
them being at a distance looking tired.
A stop to shop and chat delayed my arrival home 'til 9:30.
From the shop we heard the pot banging and whistling as enthusiastic as
for the past several nights. At a little after ten I started
getting tweets and retweets, which NTV confirmed, that the police
had asked the crowd to disperse. It didn't. The police quickly opened
fire with a water cannon. BBC said no gas was used at Taxim, but
Cihangir is wreaking with it. C and T report being gassed in their
homes for failing to close the windows soon enough, and C is sure it's
"OC" (I haven't a clue what she means). There's a slight smell of it in
C says the police tried to stop the banging of pots and pans at 9
and for several minutes after. Then the demonstration was below her
window and gas rolling up the street.At some point the police fired tear gas down Istiklal at people chanting
"Police, please don't betray your people," according to a retweet by C
from a woman at the scene..I went out and up
Defterdar Yokuşu (Incline) to see if the owner of the little liquor
store/grocery a block up the hill had news on Ulus TV (I can't get it)
that runs continuous news. But young men pounding at high speed down
the hill and the smell of gas sent me back home before I could get to
This gathering was entirely peaceful. I've read that Article 34 of
the Turkish constitution makes a public
gathering legal, though hedged about with public order requirements.
There was no threat to public order; no angry shouting or gesturing, no
spray painting, no throwing of anything. Many carried flags saying
"Taksim Solidarity" or smallish hand made signs. I saw a young girl
with a tag board and crayon tiara of trees. C and I both think traffic
was about normal while we were there, but on NTV the street in between
the square and the Marmara hotel looks full of people blocking traffic
while a police officer is using a bull horn to request that they
I wouldn't call the event a demonstration, nor a formal
ceremony. It was a partly subdued, partly festive gathering to honor
people who've paid a price, four of them the ultimate price, for
"Turkish riot police break up protest rallies" Al Jazeera, June 23, 2013 (thanks to Suneil)
Water cannon used to disperse people in Istanbul and Ankara observing memorial for those killed in recent protests.
Turkish riot police have fired water cannon to disperse thousands of
anti-government demonstrators in Istanbul trying to observe a memorial
for four people killed during recent anti-government protests.
Saturday's unrest in Taksim Square ended six days of relative calm in
Turkey's biggest city, although it was a long way from matching the
intensity of previous clashes there and in other cities that began more
than three weeks ago.
In the capital Ankara, riot police fired water cannon and tear gas to
disperse hundreds of protesters, some of them shouting slogans against
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and at one location they built
barricades to block a main street, according to witnesses.
In Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city, demonstrators threw carnations at
a phalanx of officers carrying shields who slowly advanced towards
them, flanked by water cannon, to clear Taksim Square.
"Police, don't betray your people!" activists shouted after they had been scattered into streets leading to the public square.
An Associated Press news agency journalist said police drove back
protesters into side streets off Taksim – including the main pedestrian
shopping street Istiklal – and later fired several rounds of tear gas
and rubber bullets to scatter the crowds who refused to disperse.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Police baton charge
Dogan news agency footage showed two police officers hitting
protesters with batons and kicking them as they forced their way through
A few demonstrators threw rocks at a police water cannon, while other
protesters tried to calm them down and prevent them from attacking
The unrest began when police used force against campaigners opposed to plans to develop Gezi Park which adjoins Taksim Square.
|The clashes in Istanbul on Saturday did not match the intensity of the previous demonstrations there and in other cities [AFP]|
They quickly turned into a broader show of anger at what critics call Erdogan's growing authoritarianism.
Earlier on Sunday, Erdogan, 59, told thousands of supporters in the
Black Sea city of Samsun that the unrest played into the hands of
A crowd of some 15,000 of his AK Party faithful cheered and waved
Turkish flags as he called on the public to give their answer to
demonstrations at the ballot box when Turkey holds municipal elections
The rally in the party stronghold was the fourth in a series of mass
meetings which Erdogan has called since protests began in Istanbul at
the start of June in an unprecedented challenge on the streets to his
In a speech appealing to conservative grassroots support, Erdogan
accused those involved in the protests in Turkey's main western cities
of being disrespectful towards Islam, the religion of the vast majority
of the population of 76 million.
"Let them go into mosques in their shoes, let them drink alcohol in
our mosques, let them raise their hand to our headscarved girls. One
prayer from our people is enough to frustrate their plans," Erdogan
said, before tossing red carnations to the crowd after his speech.
The protests have underlined divisions in Turkish society between
religious conservatives who form the bedrock of Erdogan's support and
more liberal Turks who have swelled the ranks of demonstrators.
Erdogan, who has led Turkey through an economic boom and still enjoys
broad popular support, claimed an "interest rate lobby" of speculators
in financial markets had benefited from the unrest.
"Who won from these three weeks of protests? The interest rate lobby,
Turkey's enemies," Erdogan said from a stage emblazoned with his
portrait and a slogan calling for his supporters to "thwart the big
game" played out against Turkey.
"Who lost from these protests? Turkey's economy, even if to a small
extent, tourism lost. They overshadowed and stained Turkey's image and
Erdogan declared that the Latin American nation of Brazil, which has
been hit by mass rallies in recent days, was the target of the same
conspirators he claims are trying to destabilise Turkey.
"The same game is now being played over Brazil," he said.
"The symbols are the same, the posters are the same, Twitter,
Facebook are the same, the international media is the same. They [the
protests] are being led from the same centre.
Erdogan will address a rally on Sunday in the eastern city of Erzurum, also an AK Party stronghold.
During his decade in power, which has seen him unchallenged on the
political stage, Erdogan has curbed the powers of an army that toppled
four governments in four decades and pursued an end to 30 years of
Hundreds of military officers have been jailed on charges of plotting a coup against him.
|The ongoing protests have underlined divisions in Turkish society between religious conservatives and more liberal Turks [AFP]|
A court near Istanbul is due to announce on August 5 its verdict on
nearly 300 defendants accused of separate plots to overthrow the
The defendants include academics, journalists and politicians.
Also on Saturday, a court in Ankara charged 22 more people over alleged role in anti-government protests.
They were accused of acting on behalf of a far-left "terrorist" group, according to lawyers.
The court charged the 22 and ordered them to be detained, the Contemporary Lawyers Association said.
Three others were released and placed under judicial supervision, it said.
The indictments bring to at least 46 the number of people facing charges over the demonstrations.
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