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January 18, 2022

Turkey protesters demand dismissal of police chiefs

Protests continue despite apologies.

Activists have demanded the sacking of police chiefs in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities over their forces’ violent responses to protests, the BBC reports. They also rejected an apology by Deputy PM Bulent Arinc, saying his remarks “were reminiscent of a civil war”. A group calling itself the Taksim Solidarity Platform (TSP) said it had handed a list of demands to Mr Arinc. The crackdown on protests over the redevelopment of a park in Istanbul last week triggered nationwide unrest.
The demands presented by the Taksim Solidarity Platform on Wednesday included a ban on the use of tear gas, the release of detained protesters, and the scrapping of the plans for the redevelopment of Gezi Park, which is part of Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
“The steps the government takes will shape the events,” the TSP said after their meeting with Mr Arinc on Wednesday. A top Turkish official apologized for the “police aggression” that fueled nationwide protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as trade unions threw their weight behind the demonstrations Tuesday, CNN reports.
The 240,000-member KESK confederation of public-sector workers called for a two-day strike to protest what it called the “fascism” of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party. The protests began over plans to replace an Istanbul park with a new development, but spread nationwide after a heavy-handed crackdown by police.
After chaotic scenes in the streets Monday that continued late into the night and sent tear gas wafting through the air, the situation was relatively calm Tuesday in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, near the park where the protest movement began, and in the capital Ankara. Riot police around Ankara’s central Kizilay Square brought in armored vehicles topped with water cannon in a show of force Tuesday evening, but the demonstrations throughout the day were calm.
The protests have morphed into larger complaints against Erdogan, who has led Turkey for 10 years. His critics call him paternalistic and authoritarian, accusing him of accumulating more and more power and growing less tolerant of dissent. In Istanbul, the crowds have been chanting “Tayyip resign” – referring to Erdogan – and “shoulder to shoulder against fascism.”
One protester, Mehmet Ayvalitas, died of his injuries, the medical association said. And the governor of Hatay in southeastern Turkey said that a 22-year-old man, Abdulah Comert, was killed with a firearm by unknown people during demonstrations late Monday, Anadolu reported.
Erdogan’s opponents appear determined to continue the demonstrations despite the prime minister’s comment Monday that he expects the situation to return to normal “within a few days.”

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