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Turkey: Taksim Square protesters wish upon a star00:44

Turkey: Taksim Square protesters wish upon a star

Turkey, Istanbul
June 6, 2013 at 18:20 GMT +00:00 · Published

Turkey: Taksim Square protesters wish upon a star

As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived back in Istanbul on Thursday night, protesters in Taksim Square unleashed hundreds of flying lanterns into the sky. Families could be seen enjoying the festive atmosphere at "occupied" Taksim with endless hours of song, dance, food and political discussion. The release of the lanterns comes as Turkey is embroiled in its largest period of unrest in recent years, with a seventh night of protests likely to rock the country.

Organisers at Gezi Park today vowed to intensify protests across the country with Erdogan's return. The Prime Minister in turn has vowed to proceed with the re-development of Gezi despite the ongoing protests triggered by police handling of demonstrators peacefully protesting the plans. The protests began in opposition to plans to replace Gezi Park with an Ottoman-style barracks and a shopping centre, but soon spiralled into a city-wide and then nationwide movement, sparking protests in Ankara, Izmir and other cities across the country.

Demands grew from the protection of a park to the curbing of what many see as the authoritarian actions of the government, with growing opposition to new legislation banning alcohol sales between 10:00 pm and 6:00am that has been pushed through the Turkish parliament by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

At least three people have died in the protests so far. The Turkish Medical Association announced on Tuesday that three people remain in critical condition in hospitals and injuries have been reported across 12 cities, with 4,177 people in total injured. Forty-three of them have suffered severe injuries, with 15 critical head impairments and 10 people losing an eye.

There have been criticisms of the police reaction to protesters, with some suggesting that riot police have routinely used excessive force against protesters. Erdogan has admitted that 'mistakes' have been made in the handling of the demonstrations. Police have used pepper spray, tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds, with some people reporting gas canisters have been shot at people's heads.

Turkey: Taksim Square protesters wish upon a star00:44
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Turkey: Taksim Square protesters wish upon a star

As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived back in Istanbul on Thursday night, protesters in Taksim Square unleashed hundreds of flying lanterns into the sky. Families could be seen enjoying the festive atmosphere at "occupied" Taksim with endless hours of song, dance, food and political discussion. The release of the lanterns comes as Turkey is embroiled in its largest period of unrest in recent years, with a seventh night of protests likely to rock the country.

Organisers at Gezi Park today vowed to intensify protests across the country with Erdogan's return. The Prime Minister in turn has vowed to proceed with the re-development of Gezi despite the ongoing protests triggered by police handling of demonstrators peacefully protesting the plans. The protests began in opposition to plans to replace Gezi Park with an Ottoman-style barracks and a shopping centre, but soon spiralled into a city-wide and then nationwide movement, sparking protests in Ankara, Izmir and other cities across the country.

Demands grew from the protection of a park to the curbing of what many see as the authoritarian actions of the government, with growing opposition to new legislation banning alcohol sales between 10:00 pm and 6:00am that has been pushed through the Turkish parliament by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

At least three people have died in the protests so far. The Turkish Medical Association announced on Tuesday that three people remain in critical condition in hospitals and injuries have been reported across 12 cities, with 4,177 people in total injured. Forty-three of them have suffered severe injuries, with 15 critical head impairments and 10 people losing an eye.

There have been criticisms of the police reaction to protesters, with some suggesting that riot police have routinely used excessive force against protesters. Erdogan has admitted that 'mistakes' have been made in the handling of the demonstrations. Police have used pepper spray, tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds, with some people reporting gas canisters have been shot at people's heads.

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