Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ankara in Protest



Prosters sit and stand silently in Ankara in solidarity with Istanbul's 'standing man' protest.


Ankara was in protest for another night on Tuesday, though a more muted one after violence at the weekend. Protesters copied the approach of Istanbul's 'standing man' in Ankara's central Kizilay area. There a vigil continued for Ethem Sarisuluk, one of five killed in two weeks of protest across Turkey, chiefly against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 


Protesters on Ankara's Kennedy street face off with police.



Elsewhere in the capital an intersection of Kennedy street has become a nightly standoff point between police and demonstrators. Tuesday was mostly peaceful if not quiet. Around a thousand protesters crowded the street, chanting, blowing plastic trumpets and being supported by vehicles sounding their horns or revving their engines. One protester, Burak, who didn't want to reveal his surname for fear of arrest told me, "we must stay here until (Prime Minister) Erdogan stops behaving like he does. He's not a dictator but if he carries on like this he will become one." Another, Buse Nicole Adali told me she was, "not afraid of the tear gas. As long as they (the police) keep coming so must we."

By the time police moved in to clear the street in the small hours of the morning only a few dozen protesters remained. A water cannon was used once and there were a few scuffles with individuals who strode up to police lines. A few beer bottles were smashed. Police in Ankara have carried out dozens of arrests after violent clashes there and in the capital over the weekend as authorities moved in to clear protest spots. Protesters accuse Prime Minister Erdogan of authoritarian leadership and the police of brutality against demonstrators. Erdogan for his part has called some of the protesters 'terrorists' and has shown his still substantial levels of support, addressing large rallies. 

A prevailing view at the moment is that although these protests are unlikely to unseat Erdogan by themselves they may make it more difficult for his AK Party to do as well as it has previously in upcoming local elections. They have also soured the mood in a Turkey which has seen huge growth in its economic and international political power in the last decade under Erdogan's leadership.

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