Turkey’s opposition leader accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of dragging the country “into the fire”, as anti-government protests that have seen three deaths entered their 11th day.
“We are witnessing a prime minister who is trying to hold on to power by creating tensions,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party was quoted as saying by national daily Hurriyet.
The statement came after Mr Erdogan warned protesters that his patience was running thin, during fierce addresses in three cities on Sunday. Those who did not respect his government would be held to account, he said. Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the city centers during the speeches, police dispersing demonstrators in Ankara with tear gas and water cannons.
Mr Erdogan has called pro-government rallies for next weekend in an attempted show of strength against demonstrators who accuse him of becoming increasingly autocratic and trying to impose a religious and conservative character on Turkish life. He insists he is committed to the country’s secular democracy.
The demonstrations were prompted by a violent police crackdown on a sit-in in Istanbul’s Taksim Square to prevent a redevelopment project that would replace a park with a replica Ottoman Barracks. They have since spread to 78 cities.
On Monday Turkey’s Doctors Association said it had asked authorities to reveal the chemical content of the tear gas fired at protesters, citing “serious concerns”.
10 June 2013