Monday, April 22, 2024

Turkish government apologizes as protests continue

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s deputy prime minister offered an apology today for the government’s violent crackdown on an environmental protest, a calculated bid to ease days of anti-government rallies in the country’s major cities.
The message was a bit mixed, however, as hundreds of riot police deployed with water cannons around the prime minister’s office in Ankara, the capital.
Bulent Arinc, who is standing in for the prime minister while he is out of the country, said the crackdown was “wrong and unjust.”
“In that first (protest) action, the excessive violence exerted on people who were acting out of environmental concerns was wrong and unjust,” Arinc said. “I apologize to those citizens.”
Yet the impact of his statement was unclear. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is visiting Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, has undermined previous statements by his ministers and has dismissed the protesters as a fringe minority stirred up by the opposition.
Tens of thousands of mostly secular-minded Turks have joined anti-government rallies since Friday, when police launched a pre-dawn raid against a peaceful sit-in protesting plans to uproot trees in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square. Since then, the demonstrations have spiraled into Turkey’s biggest anti-government disturbances in years.

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