At least two people killed and over 3000 injured in Turkey protests
Deputy PM to meet with protestors to demand cancellation of Gezi Park demolition
Protests continue to rage in Turkey as demonstrators defied a government appeal to end roiling unrest in which two people have been killed. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arnic apologized for "excessive violence" against protestors trying to save a park in Istanbul. The incident acted as catalyst for deeper tensions within the nation.
Tear gas and water cannons were turned on demonstrators. Angry mobs have ignored warnings to disperse in Istanbul, Ankara and the southeastern city of Hatay.
"At the beginning of the protests, the excessive violence used against people concerned about the environment was wrong. It was unfair and I apologize to those citizens," he said.
"The government has learnt its lesson from what happened. We do not have the right and cannot afford to ignore people. Democracies cannot exist without opposition."
In the meantime, tear gas and water cannons were turned on demonstrators. Angry mobs have ignored warnings to disperse in Istanbul, Ankara and the southeastern city of Hatay.
Thousands gathered peacefully in Istanbul at Taksim Square yelling defiance at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who had earlier dismissed the protesters as "extremists" and "vandals."
Witnesses say that the demonstrations seem to be relatively calmer and than the previous day and the arrests are reflective of government accusations that Twitter is being used for spreading lies.
The Taksim Solidarity group says that during the protests four people have lost their eyes due to gas canisters and 2,319 have been injured.
Thousands of public-sector labor union workers called for a two-day warning strike in solidarity with the anti-government protesters. Members of the workers union said they will join the ongoing rallies this week.
Two of the country's deputy prime ministers have commented on the situation and have called for calm.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said the government respects the right to non-violent protest and free speech, but that it must also protect its citizens against violence. He spoke at the American-Turkish Council's annual conference in Washington, which was attended by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
"There is a need for a strict distinction between the terrorist groups or illegal organizations versus citizens who are purely protesting on a non-violent basis," he said.
Biden said that only the Turkish people can solve the problems behind the protests. "Turkey's future belongs to the people of Turkey and no one else. But the United States does not pretend to be indifferent to the outcome," he said.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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