Europe

Turkey unrest: Unions call strike over crackdown

  • 17 June 2013
  • From the section Europe

Turkish unions have called a strike to protest against the police crackdown on demonstrators.

Turkey's Prime Minister has angrily defended the eviction of protesters from Gezi Park on Saturday night.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told hundreds of thousands of supporters at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday that the protesters were manipulated by "terrorists".

On Sunday there were continued sporadic clashes between protesters and police in Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

The Confederation of Public Workers' Unions (KESK) and Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), along with three professional organisations, have announced what they call a one-day work stoppage to demand an end to "police violence".

The unions have called for a march and a rally in Istanbul on Monday afternoon.

Gezi Park remained clear of protesters on Monday morning, thanks to a heavy police presence

Lawyers from the Turkish bar association say that close to 500 people have been detained as part of the police operation against the demonstrators.

'Missing doctors'

Some lawyers have complained that they have not been given access to their clients, and in some cases do not know where they are being held, the organisation says.

Dr Ozbemir Aktan, president of the Turkish medical association, told the BBC that five doctors and three nurses had gone missing after treating injured protesters.

The Turkish health ministry had previously opened an "investigation" into healthcare professionals volunteering at makeshift first aid centres, saying they have been acting without permission from the ministry.

Amnesty International said in a statement that it was "completely unacceptable that doctors should be threatened with prosecution for providing medical attention for people in need".

'Duty'

The prime minister said it was his duty to order the eviction of protesters from Gezi Park, and denied behaving like a dictator.

Mr Erdogan also criticised foreign media, and vowed to "identify one by one those who have terrorised the streets".

The BBC's Chris Morris, in Istanbul, says an important part of the city centre remains in a state of flux.

The police have blocked all roads leading to Taksim Square and Gezi Park, which was occupied for 18 days by people protesting against plans for its redevelopment.

But clashes between police and protesters have continued in surrounding areas, involving the liberal use of tear gas and water cannon, our correspondent adds.

Late on Sunday night there were disturbances in streets around Istanbul's central Taksim Square, in the Nisantasi area and around the Galata bridge, which crosses the Sultanahmet district, according to the Reuters news agency.

A member of parliament for the opposition People's Republican Party was beaten by police, a spokesman told the BBC.

The Dogan news agency reported that dozens of protesters had been detained in Istanbul and some 70 others in Ankara on Sunday.

One 20-year-old woman in Ankara was critically hurt on Sunday by a tear gas canister that struck her on the head, the city's medical association said.

The Turkish medical association has also condemned the extensive use of tear gas, warning of the dangers of exposing such large numbers of people to its chemicals.

The demonstrators have meanwhile vowed that they will not back down.

"We will win Taksim Square again and we will win Gezi Park again,'' Alican Elagoz, a spokeswoman for one protesters' group, told the Associated Press.

Our correspondent says harsh words have been spoken on both sides, and there is now concern about growing tension between Left and Right in a bitterly divided political system.

The protests in Turkey began on 28 May against a plan to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park, but snowballed into nationwide anti-government protests after the perceived high-handed response of the authorities under their three-term prime minister.

Medical officials estimate that 5,000 people have been injured and at least four killed since the protests began.

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