Police in Turkey have raided homes in the capital Ankara, detaining 23 people involved in anti-government protests.
The state-run Anadolu agency said on Tuesday that police searched about 30 addresses, including hospitals and parks where the protesters stay during the night. Those detained were alleged to have links to “terror” groups and were suspected of “attacking police and the environment” during recent protests that swept the country.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the protesters of being members of “terrorist groups” and police detained more than 1000 people in the last 3 weeks, many released.
The protests began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park on May 31 against a municipality decision which would remove the trees in order to build a mall, and quickly turned into widespread demonstrations against the leadership of Erdogan, following a heavy-handed police clampdown on peaceful activists. Demonstrators took to the street in 79 cities.
The demonstrations turned violent at times, and Erdogan urged to strengthen the police forces to stop the protests immediately. Four protesters killed and 43 heavily wounded. One police officer fell down from a wall and died while chasing the protesters.
Turkey’s troubled bid for membership of the European Union has been also affected by the protests. Member states postponed a new round of talks for at least four months.
The EU criticised Turkey’s crackdown on anti-government protests and delayed the talks on Tuesday, a day before they were originally due to start.