Thousands of Turks demonstrated for a second day in Istanbul against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom they see as becoming increasingly authoritarian.
The demonstration began peacefully in Taksim Square, an Ottoman site where developers plan to put a shopping center. Police responded violently with water cannons and tear gas. Nearly 1,000 people have been injured so far, including six who lost eyes after being hit with gas canisters.
Erdogan “is known for his abrasive style and intolerance of criticism,” The Guardian reports. The Nationalist Movement Party held a news conference in the square, calling for the prime minister and his broadly Islamic government to step down.
Protests have spread to other cities, including the capital Ankara, where thousands gathered in a small park Saturday and moved into a heavily trafficked shopping area. Many in that city were seen drinking in the street in opposition to a new law restricting the sale and advertisement of alcohol. That move alarmed secularists. Police broke up groups that tried to march toward the parliament building nearby.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Ozturk Turkdogan, the head of the Turkish Human Rights Association, said hundreds of people in several cities had been injured in the police crackdown and a few hundred people had been arrested. The Dogan news agency said 81 demonstrators were detained in Istanbul.
Turkish police have previously been accused of excessive use of teargas and violence to stop demonstrations, including at this year’s May Day rally.
Turkdogan said: “The use of gas at such proportions is unacceptable. It is a danger to public health and as such is a crime. Unfortunately, there isn’t a prosecutor brave enough to stand up to police. The people are standing up against Erdogan who is trying to monopolise power and is meddling in all aspects of life.”
Riot police rout a peaceful demonstration in Istanbul with a high-pressure water cannon Friday.