Injuries Toll in Turkey's Unrest Reaches 3 500

World | June 4, 2013, Tuesday // 13:09|  views

Turkish citizens protest against police brutality and the rule of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan in mass rallies that gripped the country since Friday. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The number of people injured in clashes with police during mass protest rallies in neighboring Turkey has reached 3 500 people.

The injuries were sustained during rallies in three large cities - Istanbul, the capital Ankara, and Izmir, according to the Turkish Milliyet daily, citing the Director of the Association of Turkish Media, Beyaz?t ?lhan,

Ilhan is quoted in saying the country's Ministry of Interior and police chiefs must be held accountable for the bloodbaths across Turkey, labeling police actions "monstrosities, happening well beyond the 3 cities listed by Milliyet."

It has emerged meanwhile that a number of photos published on Facebook and Twitter as proof of police brutality have been fakes and collages.

There have been two officially reported fatalities - a 22-year-old man died in hospital Tuesday after being shot during a rally in southern Turkey and a 20-year-old man was killed Monday when a taxi ran into a group of protesters on an Istanbul highway.

The demonstrations in Turkey continued Monday into Tuesday.

Large crowds gathered in Istanbul's districts of Taksim and Besiktas.

In Besiktas, where the Istanbul offices of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are located, roads surrounding the office remain closed in a bid to push back protesters. Bridges connecting the European and the Asian part of the city are also closed to prevent the movement of large crowds.

What has begun as a rally for the preservation of a city park - Gezi in Istanbul's Taxim - has turned into a nationwide rally against the allegedly autocratic and Islamist-leaning regime of PM Erdogan.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Thousands have been arrested during protests in 67 towns and cities, though many have since been released.

According to the BBC and bTV, many of the protesters in Istanbul appear to be young, urban middle class, and irritated at what they see as Erdogan's move towards Islamization.

Last week the government passed legislation curbing the sale and advertising of alcoholic drinks, and banning shows of affection in public transportation.

Erdogan insists the protesters are undemocratic and were being provoked by the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Speaking in a televised interview Sunday, he labeled the demonstrators "a few looters" and strongly criticized social networks, singling out Twitter, which he said was "an extreme version of lying and a menace to society." Twitter and Facebook are down in many sections of Istanbul.

Initially, the protest was largely peaceful.

It was triggered by plans to demolish the only remaining park in Taksim to make way for the rebuilding of an Ottoman era military barracks to house a large shopping center.

But after police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators, the tensions escalated.

At the weekend, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in towns and cities calling on the government to resign.

Erdogan now says a mosque not a mall will be built in the square. Against the backdrop of the tensions, he headed for Morocco, where he issued a statement saying that things would go back to normal within days.

In the Parliament, CHP have called for snap elections as remedy for the political turmoil.

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Tags: injuries, injured, unrest, Izmir, Turkish, police, brutality, Prime Minister, PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rallies, Gezi, Taksim, Islamization, protests, turkey, Ankara, Istanbul, tear gas, protesters, Occupy, Gezi, water cannons


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