BRUSSELS, June 2 (RIA Novosti) – The EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has condemned the disproportionate use of force by police against protesters in Turkey and expressed “deep concern” over the violence.
"[Ashton] hopes for a speedy recovery of all those injured, and calls for restraint on all sides and an end to the violence. Dialogue should be opened to find a peaceful solution to this issue,” a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
Almost a thousand of people were detained and 79 injured in Turkey when police fired tear gas on Saturday to disperse nationwide anti-government protests against the planned demolition of Gezi Park in Istanbul.
The controversial project is aimed at easing congestion around Taksim Square but also involves rebuilding old Ottoman barracks and creating a shopping mall in the park, one of the few green areas left in central Istanbul.
The rally in Istanbul triggered more than 90 separate protests in 48 out of the country’s 81 provinces. Unrest still continues in Ankara, Izmir and other Turkish cities.
According to the Hurriyet daily, about 20,000 people took to the streets in Ankara, protesting against the government’s policies and demanding resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Troops were deployed to keep protestors away from the premier’s residence. Turkish police again used tear gas to disperse the crowds on Sunday, on the sixth day of riots, media reports said.
Erdogan admitted on Saturday that the use of tear gas by police at the protest against the demolition of Gezi Park was a mistake, but said there will be no step back from the project.
The use of tear gas in Turkey has been also condemned by Amnesty International that said it “breaches international human rights standards” and “constitutes a serious danger to health.”