Fresh Violence Erupts As Turkey Protests Enter 6th Day
Fresh violence erupted in Turkey overnight Tuesday, as protesters defied a government plea to end days of deadly unrest.
AFP reported that police used tear gas and water cannons on hundreds of protesters, who ignored warnings to disperse in Istanbul, Ankara and the southeastern city of Hatay, where a young protester died a day earlier.
"You are being unfair to us, that is enough!" one protester was seen yelling at the police after warnings to quit an area close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Istanbul office.
Erdogan's government earlier won praise from the United States for apologizing to injured protesters, but that concession did not appear to have stemmed popular anger.
Thousands gathered at Istanbul's Taksim Square for a sixth day, yelling defiance at Erdogan, who earlier has dismissed the protesters as "extremists" and "vandals".
He was in Algeria on the second day of a four-day official visit to North Africa.
Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologized to protesters who had been injured when the clashes erupted last week. The wave of protests broke out on Friday after police tear-gassed demonstrators at a peaceful rally against plans to build on an Istanbul park.
"I apologize to those who were subject to violence because of their sensitivity for the environment," he said, according to AFP, though he added that his apology excluded "the rioters".
"The government has learned its lesson from what happened," he added. "We do not have the right and cannot afford to ignore people. Democracies cannot exist without opposition."
Two people have been killed in the clashes, officials and medics say, and rights groups say thousands have been injured. The government puts the figure at around 300.
Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) first took power in 2002, has accused the main opposition Republican People's Party of having a hand in the protests.
On Sunday, Erdogan rejected claims that he is a “dictator” and pointed to the opposition and social media as being responsible for the protests against his government.
The White House praised Deputy Prime Minister Arinc for his statement on Tuesday.
"We welcome the deputy prime minister's comments apologizing for excessive force, and we continue to welcome calls for these events to be investigated," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, according to AFP.