ISTANBUL, 6 JUNE: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was due back in Turkey today after a trip abroad, with thousands of angry demonstrators calling for his resignation as protests entered seventh day.
Deputy prime minister Huseyin Celik urged party supporters not to flock to the airport to welcome him to avoid tension. “The prime minister does not need a show of power,” he told a local television channel, yesterday. When Mr Erdogan flew out of Turkey on Monday on a four-day visit to north Africa, he had dismissed the protests, saying they would have died down before he returned. They were still going strong yesterday, though that day saw the first confrontations between ruling party supporters and protesters. In the Black Sea port of Rize, a group of 25 youths who staged an anti-government protest was attacked by a crowd of several hundred people, CNN-Turk television reported today. Mr Erdogan said that members of a “terrorist organisation” were taking part in deadly anti-government protests sweeping Turkey and refused to cancel a controversial Istanbul development plan that sparked them. He said seven foreign suspects implicated in the unrest had been arrested.
Police fired teargas to disperse supporters of Erdogan’s Justice and Freedom Party (AKP) who had surrounded a building where some of the youths had taken shelter. Some of the anti-government protesters were later hospitalised. afp