Turkey protesters outline demands
Activists have presented a list of demands they said could end days of anti-government demonstrations that have engulfed Turkey, as trade unions joined in the outpouring of anger, shouting slogans and wielding banners calling on the prime minister to resign.
In a move to defuse the tension, the deputy prime minister met a group whose attempt to prevent authorities from ripping up trees in Istanbul's landmark Taksim Square has snowballed into nationwide protests against what demonstrators see as Recep Tayyip Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule.
Police have deployed water cannons and tear gas has clouded the country's city centres. The Ankara-based Human Rights Association says close to 1,000 people have been injured and more than 3,300 people have been detained over five days of protests.
The activist group denounced Erdogan's "vexing" style and urged the government to halt Taksim Square redevelopment plans, ban the use of tear gas by police, immediately release detained protesters and lift restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. It also demanded that officials responsible for the violent crackdown be removed from office.
The protests appear to have developed spontaneously and remain leaderless. It was not at all certain that the tens of thousands of protesters would heed any call by the group to cease.
The group of academics, architects and environmentalists, known as the Taksim Solidarity Platform, was formed to try to keep Taksim Square from redevelopment, including the rebuilding of an Ottoman army barracks and a shopping centre.
The protests were sparked by fury over a heavy-handed pre-dawn police raid on Friday to roust activists camping out in an attempt to stop the plans. Protests have appeared to calm a bit, even as thousands of trade union members on a two-day strike marched to Taksim and into central Ankara.
There were scattered violent clashes overnight on roads leading to Erdogan's offices in Ankara and Istanbul, as well as in the city of Antakya, near the Syrian border, where a protester was killed by an apparent blow to the head.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who is standing in for Erdogan while he is on a trip to Northern Africa, has offered an olive branch to protesters, apologising for what he said was a "wrong and unjust" crackdown on the sit-in. Erdogan had inflamed protesters, calling them an extremist fringe, and refusing to back away from plans to revamp Taksim.
"The steps the government takes from now on will define the course of society's reaction," Eyup Muhcu, the head of a chamber of architects, said after meeting with Arinc.