Turkish protester killed amid continued unrest

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Police fire tear gas outside Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's working office in Besiktas Istanbul, on 2 June 2013, during a third day of clashes. (AFP - Ozan Kose)

Published Monday, June 3, 2013

A young demonstrator was killed in Istanbul by a car that rammed into a crowd during a wave of protests against Turkey's government, a medics' union said on Monday.

The car killed Mehmet Ayvalitas, a member of a left-wing association, when it plowed into demonstrators occupying a highway on Sunday, the third day of clashes between protesters and police, the Union of Turkish Doctors said in a statement.

The driver did not stop "despite all warnings," the statement said, suggesting the act was deliberate.

The non-government group blamed the death on the government's "intransigence" and condemned the authorities' hardline approach to trying to quell the protests.

"The first thing to do is stop the police brutality immediately," it said.

Rights groups and medics say several days of clashes have injured hundreds of people. The government's last estimate on Sunday put the figure at 58 civilians and 115 security forces.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing down the fiercest protests in his decade-long rule, sharpened by anger over his perceived authoritarian leanings.

Erdogan remained defiant in the face of widespread opposition, dismissing the protests as the work of secularist enemies who never reconciled to the mandate of his Islamist AKP party.

"This is a protest organized by extremist elements," Erdogan said at a news conference before departing on a trip to Morocco. "We will not give away anything to those who live arm in arm with terrorism."

"Many things have happened in this country, they've hanged, they've poisoned, but we will walk towards the future with determination and through holding onto our values," he added, an allusion to Turkey's murky past of military coups and covert action by militant secularist forces.

Erdogan had earlier denounced demonstrators as "vandals."

He also lashed out at the social messaging service Twitter, used by many of the protesters.

"There is a troublemaker called Twitter, the worst of lies are in there," he told the Haberturk television channel on Sunday, citing false tweets about attacks against protesters and fatalities.

"What they call social media is the nuisance of societies. Society gets terrorized this way."

Demonstrators remained put in Istanbul's main Taksim Square where the protests first erupted.

Overnight, crowds marched on Erdogan's offices in Istanbul and in the capital Ankara, lighting fires and yelling: "Dictator, resign!... We will resist until we win."

The protest started as a small campaign against the redevelopment of Gezi Park near Taksim Square, a rare green spot in central Istanbul.

After the local protest was met with a extreme police violence, the unrest quickly spiralled into an outpouring of anger.

Meanwhile Turkey's Public Workers Unions Confederation (KESK) said on Monday it would hold a "warning strike" on June 4-5 to protest the crackdown on anti-government protesters.

"The state terror implemented against mass protests across the country ... has shown once again the enmity to democracy of the AKP government," said a statement from the leftist confederation KESK, which has some 240,000 members in 11 unions.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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