Turkey police disperse pro-secular protesters

Tear gas and water cannons used to disband thousands marching in Ankara to mark Republic Day.

    Turkey police disperse pro-secular protesters
    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.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.