Water cannons are used to clear Taksim Square in central Istanbul (file photo)
Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:8PM GMT
Two of Turkey’s main trade unions have called a one-day nationwide strike in protest against police violence against anti-government demonstrators at an Istanbul park.
Turkish union confederations DISK and KESK will go on strike Monday in protest at a police raid on a protester camp in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, a spokesman for KESK said on Sunday, AFP reported.
“We are going on strike tomorrow across the country, with DISK and other vocational organisations,” Baki Cinar said.
“Our demand is for police violence to end immediately,” he added.
The unions represent hundreds of thousand of workers and the stoppage is likely to affect schools, hospitals and public offices across the country.
Three other groups representing doctors, engineers and dentists said they will also join the action.
On Saturday night, police stormed the protest camp in the park, firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters defying Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s order to leave.
On Sunday, Erdogan said it was his “duty” to order riot police to evict protesters staying at Gezi Park.
“I said we were at an end. That it was unbearable. Yesterday (Saturday) the operation was carried out and it was cleaned up,” Erdogan told a crowd of more than 100,000 supporters in Istanbul.
“It was my duty as prime minister,” the prime minister added.
The unrest in Turkey erupted after police broke up a sit-in staged at Taksim Square on May 31 to protest against a government plan for the redevelopment of Gezi Park.
The Turkish prime minister has faced international condemnation for his handling of the crisis. Turkish police have also been strongly criticized for using excessive force against the peaceful protests.
Five people, including a police officer, have reportedly died in the clashes and more than 5,000 protesters and 600 police officers have been wounded.