[QODLink]
Europe
Turkey police disperse pro-secular protesters
Tear gas and water cannons used to disband thousands marching in Ankara to mark Republic Day.
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2012 22:59
Protesters carried banners depicting Ataturk, the first president of Turkey credited with founding the republic [AFP]

Police in Turkey have fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse thousands of pro-secular protesters who defied a government to march in the capital Ankara to mark Republic Day.

The rally organised by dozens of civil society organisations and backed by some opposition parties began outside the first parliament building in the historic Ulus district on Monday.

Carrying national flags, demonstrators shouted slogans including "Fully independent Turkey" and "We are soldiers of Mustafa Kemal" (Ataturk), referring to the republic's founding father.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannons after the crowd attempted to storm a police barricade in order to march to Ataturk's mausoleum, according to Turkish media.

Some of the protesters were shouting anti-government slogans such as "Turkey is secular and will remain secular", and "We are here despite the AKP" government as they tried to breach the police barricade.

The Ankara governor's office had banned the Republic Day rally, saying that the state's security services have received intelligence that groups might be planning "provocative" action.

About 3,500 police officers were deployed in the area after the government declared the rally illegal.

Republic Day is a national holiday in Turkey but it has in recent years become a platform for opposition groups worried that the current regime is expunging the country's secular tradition.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and other government opponents have voiced outrage that celebrating the republic's 89th anniversary should be made into a criminal act.

227

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A former rebel's museum keeps alive memories of the July 26, 1953 veterans who launched Cuba's revolution.
A revolutionary new treatment is halving hospitalisation rates for severe asthma sufferers.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
join our mailing list