Following a denial of Monday’s threats by Turkish officials to call in the army if protesters in Istanbul didn’t leave Taksim square and Gezi Park, silent protesters who took to simply standing still in Taksim square were arrested en masse and put on buses, Euro News reported. Turkish Radio and Television Corporation reported 25 people were arrested in Ankara and 13 in the western city of Eskisehir. Around 55 people were arrested in Istanbul.
A police source told Reuters the “provocateurs” were “taken for questioning.” Taksim Square has been sealed off, CBS reported. Turkey’s NTV television reported that house raids across the country were targeting left-wing groups, and those detained were suspected of “violence against police” during recent protests, Bloomberg said.
Emre Deliveli, an economist and columnist with the Hürriyet Daily News, said he was being tracked by police.
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â€” Emre Deliveli (@EmreDeliveli) June 18, 2013
In a speech Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed the protesters, who are in their third week of antigovernment demonstrations, are proxies for “terrorists.” Previously, he called them “riffraff” and said it was his “duty” to evict them from Gezi park, one of the few green spaces in Istanbul. He denied he was acting like an authoritarian, Voice of America reported.
Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party were elected to power continuously over the past 10 years, which is one of the protesters’ main points of complaint. On Monday, two major trade unions went on strike in solidarity with the protesters, and 1,000 union workers clashed briefly with police in Ankara.