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Turkey braces for fresh protests

Source BBC News@ tienganhvui.com




Protesters clash with police at Istanbul park demonstration



Turkey is braced for a second day of protests after clashes between police and demonstrators left dozens of people injured in Istanbul on Friday.


Police have been drafted in from other provinces, parts of Istanbul are cordoned off and traffic is stationery.


The protest began as a sit-in rally over plans to redevelop a square in Istanbul, but escalated and became violent after police used tear gas.


The unrest reportedly spread as far as Ankara, Bodrum, Konya and Izmir.


Reports say hundreds of people have marched across Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge on Saturday morning in support of the anti-government protesters.


The BBC's Louise Greenwood in Istanbul says police from as far afield as Antalya are being drafted in to help quell the violence.


She says the central Taksim district and surrounding areas remain cordoned off and the city's famous bridges are closed for traffic.


Istanbul's governor said a dozen people were admitted to hospital and more than 60 people detained after Friday's clashes, which continued into the night.


In Ankara, protesters staged what they described as a solidarity rally, with many participants chanting: "Everywhere is resistance, everywhere is Taksim!"


The US has expressed concern over Turkey's handling of the protests and Amnesty International condemned the police's tactics.



Analysis





A four-day sit-in against government plans to revamp a popular park in the city's main shopping district gathered support when word spread on social media.


The regeneration project has disrupted live for months now and is already running behind schedule. Istanbul residents are tired of the disruption to their daily lives.


The protests have the potential to grow as new restrictions on alcohol sales and attacks on freedom of speech have secular Turks saying that their civil liberties are under threat. This latest crackdown will only confirm their suspicions that Prime Minister Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party are implementing a conservative agenda.



Witnesses said tear gas was deployed randomly on people who were "by and large protesting peacefully".


'Creeping Islamisation'

Demonstrators gathered in the park to contest the controversial redevelopment project aimed at easing congestion around Taksim Square, which involved uprooting trees.


Opponents of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's plans say the park is one of the few green areas left in central Istanbul.


Correspondents say the issue has helped highlight unhappiness among young people towards the government and ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party over what they see as creeping Islamisation.


Last week, Turkey's parliament approved legislation restricting the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks between 22:00 and 06:00.


The prime minister's AK Party has its roots in political Islam, but he says he is committed to Turkey's state secularism.


Mr Erdogan has been in power since 2002 and some in Turkey have complained that his government is becoming increasingly authoritarian.


Earlier this month, riot police clashed with tens of thousands of people attempting to hold a May Day march in Istanbul.




Protesters hold a large Turkish flag in front of a water cannon truck, Istanbul, 31 May 2013Protesters opposed to the redevelopment had camped out in Gezi Park for four days


Tear gas and demonstrators in Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey, 31 May 2013Prime Minister Erdogan has vowed to carry out the redevelopment


Demonstrators help one another as Turkish riot policemen use tear gas to disperse clashes (May 31, 2013)Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters


Riot police use pepper spray on protesters in Ankara (31 May 2013)There were also protests in the capital Ankara, where police used pepper spray on some demonstrators.








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