06/03/2013, 00.00
TURKEY
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Istanbul, fourth day of anti-Erdogan protests

Overnight clashes in Besiktas district. Yesterday, the demonstrators marched to Erdogan’s offices in Istanbul and Ankara calling for his resignation. At least 1,770 arrested, many already released. Official figures of 58 civilians and 115 police officers wounded. Some civilians, hit by rubber bullets, have lost their sight. NATO and the EU appeal for moderation and dialogue.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the fourth consecutive day, there are protests and demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara against the government of Tayyep Erdogan accused of being a dictator and a suffocating Islamist.

Last night, until early this morning there were clashes between police and thousands of demonstrators in the Besiktas district. In recent days, the police have tried to surprises demonstrations with a heavy use of tear gas, violence, rubber bullets and water cannons. The interior minister, Muammer Guler says that at least 1,700 people have been arrested, although many of them have already been released. Official figures report 58 injuries among civilians and 115 among police, but human rights groups say the number of injured civilian is much higher and some of them have lost their sight, hit by rubber bullets. Mosques, shops, universities have turned into emergency hospitals to treat the wounded.

The demonstrations began at Gezi Park, one of the few green areas in the city centre close to the central Taksim Square, where the government had decided to cut down trees and build a shopping center. The protest in defense of the city's green areas soon became an avalanche of opposition to Erdogan's policies, his neo-Ottoman projects bent on making Turkey a model for the Islamic world, boosting economy, consumption and Islamic norms.

"It's not just about the Gezi Park - said a young protester in Ankara. " It is a movement against a government that is increasingly interfering in our private lives."

Yesterday, the demonstrators marched to the offices of the Prime Minister in Istanbul and Ankara shouting for his resignation.

Erdogan is also accused of having a heavy hand toward his opponents: Kurds, journalists, military, secular groups.

Turkey's NATO allies have asked the Prime Minister to exercise restraint. Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief of the European Union, in a statement condemned "the disproportionate use of force" of the Turkish police and asked them to open dialogue sessions to find a peaceful solution.

 

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