Turkey Clashes Persist Amid Crackdown on Social Media Posts

Photographer: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Protestors light torches in Taksim Square on June 4, 2013 in Istanbul. Close

Protestors light torches in Taksim Square on June 4, 2013 in Istanbul.

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Photographer: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Protestors light torches in Taksim Square on June 4, 2013 in Istanbul.

Anti-government demonstrators clashed with police in several Turkish cities overnight and arrest warrants were issued for dozens of people charged with spreading false information on social media about the past week’s protests.

Police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters in about 10 cities including the western city of Izmir, where police are under orders to detain 38 people for postings on social media, the state-run Anatolia news agency said today. Of those, 25 were already detained and have been interrogated at the police organized crime unit, it said. There were also clashes in the southeastern provinces of Tunceli and Elazig.

Protesters throughout the country returned to the streets yesterday, the fifth day since the movement spread nationwide after it was sparked by police attacks on demonstrators opposing plans to develop an Istanbul park. The protesters called for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of an autocratic style and citing grievances including alleged police brutality, curbs on alcohol sales and restrictions on labor unions.

Turkey’s benchmark stock index fell 1.1 percent at the opening in Istanbul today. The measure plunged 10.5 percent, the most in more than a decade, on June 3 after a weekend of violent clashes, and recouped almost half of that loss yesterday. Benchmark two-year lira bonds also fell today, pushing yields up 17 basis points to 6.20 percent at 10 a.m. in Istanbul.

Not Ending

“There is not much evidence to suggest that these demonstrations are ending any time soon,” with the possibility of counter-rallies by government supporters, Timothy Ash, chief emerging markets economist for Standard Bank Plc in London, said by e-mail today. He said it remains unclear how the government will clear the streets of cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, where protesters erected barriers blocking traffic.

Two of Turkey’s main labor groups, Kesk and Disk, along with the Turkish Medical Association and the union of architects and engineers, called a strike today to protest the government.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc sought to defuse the protests yesterday, apologizing to victims of excessive police force and saying the government has learned some lessons. Initial rallies against plans to develop a park in Taksim square in Istanbul were “rightful and legitimate,” he said. Arinc is due to meet representatives of an environmentalist platform today to discuss the Taksim project.

Erdogan, who’s in North Africa on a previously scheduled visit, has taken a tougher line, blaming “extremist” forces and the main opposition party for the protests. He also criticized the role of social media, telling Haberturk TV on June 2 that Twitter was one of society’s biggest problems and accusing people of using it to spread lies during the demonstrations.

Muharrem Ince, a member of parliament for the opposition Republican People’s Party, said by phone early today that raids for posts on Twitter and Facebook are “the height of fascism.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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