Ankara, Turkey – In the past week, the wave of demonstrations that began in Taksim Square in Istanbul has spread to different cities across Turkey.
From the protesters’ standpoint, the demonstrations in Ankara, the nation’s capital, signify widespread frustration at the country’s overall direction. They see Turkey moving in a more conservative and Islamist direction, and have blamed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Most of the demonstrators are young, western-oriented, and secular. They carry flags with the portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, regarded as the father of modern Turkey, and claim that Erdogan has forgotten the spirit on which Ataturk established the state.
On June 5, thousands of union members gathered in Ankara’s main square to protest. The demonstrations remained largely peaceful until police violently cracked down on the protesters late in the afternoon with tear gas and water cannons. Several people were injured, some severely, and scores were arrested.