Two Killed in Violent ‘Arab Spring’ Rallies in Turkey
At least two people have been killed in clashes between police and rioters in Turkey, the Amnesty International organization reports. Over 1,000 have been injured.
Riots continued for a third day Sunday in the city of Istanbul. On Saturday police withdrew from Taksim Square, once a main tourist attraction, where the largest anti-government protests in years are taking place.
Some rioters threw objects at police officers. Police responded with tear gas.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said police may have used tear gas too liberally, and that the matter would be investigated. However, Erdogan condemned protesters as well, accusing them of causing unnecessary tension and stating that they do not represent the majority of Turkish citizens.
The United States State Department has expressed concern over the violence used in quelling the riots. “We are concerned about the number of people who were injured when police dispersed protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park,” said spokesperson Jen Psaki.
“We believe that Turkey's long-term stability, security and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing," she added. These are the freedoms ensured by the first amendment to the US Constitution.
The protests began Friday over plans to redevelop a local park. According to Al Arabiya, “what started as an outcry against a local development project has snowballed into widespread anger against what critics say is the government’s increasingly conservative and authoritarian agenda.”