Turkey police raids target protesters and silent demonstration | News | DW | 18.06.2013
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Turkey police raids target protesters and silent demonstration

Police in Turkey have arrested scores of people they cited as "provocateurs" following raids in several cities. A man staged an 8-hour silent vigil on Istanbul's Taksim Square.

Muammer Guler, Turkey's interior minister, said on Tuesday that 62 people were arrested in Istanbul, the country's biggest city, while many others were detained in the capital, Ankara. Police confirmed the arrests and said: "For now, only provocateurs will be taken for questioning."

What began as an environmentalists' sit-in at Istabul's Gezi Park, near the demonstrations' new focal point Taksim Square, has grown into widespread demonstrations against the government and police. A sometimes-violent response to the park occupation prompted further protests.

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Dissidents embrace silence

The demonstrations turned violent and increasingly against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after police sought to clear protesters using teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon. The protests spread to more than 70 towns around the country.

Silent protest

For eight hours on Monday night, the performance artist Erdem Gunduz (photo above) stood silently in Taksim Square facing the Ataturk Cultural Center which was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The square has been sealed off from mass protests since police cleared it over the weekend, but officers have not stopped pedestrians from entering. Gunduz was joined by about 300 other people. Ten people, who refused to be moved on by police, were detained.

Gunduz, swiftly dubbed "standing man" on social media in Turkey, inspired similar protests elsewhere in Istanbul as well as in the capital Ankara and the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast.

Prime Minister Erdogan has said he will increase police powers following the protests. "We shall strengthen police ... so that it has increased powers of intervention," he said on Tuesday after praising the police for what he called their restraint while acting within their "rights."

jm/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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