Turkey puts 16 on trial for anti-govt protests, draws criticism from rights groups for 'closing down civil society voices'
16 accused of organizing anti-government protests in 2013 went on trial in Turkey on Monday, with rights groups calling the charges baseless and aimed at silencing civil society activities.
An initially small-scale campaign to save Gezi Park in May 2013 eventually drew an estimated three million protesters in a nationwide outpouring of anger.
The group met Erdogan at the height of the unrest to discuss the protesters' demands, only to be accused by the premier of being "traitors" aiming to destabilise the government.
An Istanbul park that was at the center of weeks of anti-government demonstrations opened for a few hours Monday, but Turkish authorities quickly closed it and fired a water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters heading to the area for a planned rally.
Turkey's prime minister on Tuesday brushed aside international criticism over his government's crackdown on widespread demonstrations and vowed to increase the police's powers to deal with the unrest. Meanwhile, more than 90 people were detained in police raids linked to the protests.
The Taksim square protesters apparently belong to this section and class of Turkish society. Are the protesters right in their allegations and inferences? Not really.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rallied hundreds of thousands of supporters at an Istanbul parade ground on Sunday as riot police fired teargas several kilometres away in the city centre to disperse anti-government protesters.
Riot police cordoned off streets, set up roadblocks and fired tear gas and water cannon to prevent anti-government protesters from converging on Istanbul's central Taksim Square on Sunday, unbowed even as Turkey's prime minister addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters a few kilometers away.
Turkish protesters said on Friday Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had pledged hold off on plans to redevelop an Istanbul park until a court ruled on the project, a move they said was a positive sign after two weeks of protest.
Turkey's government on Wednesday offered a first concrete gesture aimed at ending nearly two weeks of street protests, proposing a referendum on a development project in Istanbul.
Riot police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets in day-long clashes that lasted into the early hours Wednesday, battling protesters who have been occupying Istanbul's central Taksim Square and its adjacent Gezi Park in the country's most severe anti-government protests in decades.
Turkey's prime minister will meet with a group of protesters occupying Istanbul's central Taksim Square this week, the deputy prime minister said on Monday, as the government sought a way out of the impasse that has led to hundreds of protests in dozens of cities.
In a series of increasingly belligerent speeches to cheering supporters on Sunday, Turkey's prime minister demanded an end to the 10-day anti-government protests that have spread across the country, saying those who do not respect the government will pay.
What started as a mostly environmental movement to protect the park in Taksim Square quickly spiraled into demonstrations across the country. But the central focus remains Istanbul's small Gezi Park.