June 3, 2013
A 20-year-old Turkish man has become the first known victim of the wave of unrest sweeping the country.
The victim died when a taxi drove into a group of demonstrators in Istanbul during an anti-government protest, the Turkish doctors’ association TBB said. The protester was named as Mehmet Ayvalitas, and four other people were also injured, one of them seriously.
It is the first confirmed death of a protester in Turkey since the demonstrations erupted last week, sparked by anger over excessive police force against protesters holding a sit-in against redevelopment of Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
|Riot police clash with protesters in Istanbul where Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has an office (Picture: AP)|
The protests have become Turkey’s biggest anti-government disturbances in years and are seen as a sign of frustration against prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is accused of being increasingly authoritarian.
Mr Erdogan accused anti-government protesters on Monday of walking ‘arm-in-arm with terrorism’, remarks that could further inflame public anger. Hundreds of police and protesters have been injured since Friday in the riots.
The prime minister has dismissed the protests as the work of his secularist enemies opposed to his Islamist AKP party ‘This is a protest organised by extremist elements,’ he said. ‘We will not give away anything to those who live arm in arm with terrorism.’
The demonstrators, mostly secular-minded Turks, took to the street airing frustrations at Mr Erdogan’s abrasive and non-compromising style as well as the heavy-handed police response to protests.
Fox News showed footage of police telling a group sheltering by the side of a building to come out, reassuring that nothing would happen, then shooting a gas canister at one of them. Turkey’s main stock exchange has dropped by 6.43 per cent on opening on Monday, as investors worried about the destabilising effect of the demonstrations on the economy.