FEATURE VIDEO: Claimed footage of a police van hitting a protester //
Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi, head of the Cyrenaica Council in the east of the country, has called for a self-governing region.
Al-Senussi has no formal authority under transitional arrangements; however, his council is representative of factions in the east expressing concerns over governance of the country.
The National Assembly in Tripoli said it would form a committee to examine the declaration by Senussi, which included promises to form a Parliament and security force for the region.
Police in Ankara have fired tear gas at protesters, who retaliated with stones and fireworks, blocking roads leading to Prime Minister Erdogan’s office.
Thousands of demonstrators have rallied in Istanbul’s Taksim Square throughout the day without significant incident.
Medical staff say more than 1,000 people have been injured in Istanbul and several hundred more in Ankara since protests began Friday.
Back from a Sunday break to find crowds back in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defending the Gezi Park project, his Government and himself in a televised interview. He insists:
Those who voted for us already gave us permission for this. Some people come out & say, “Respectable Prime Minister, these [steps] are very provocative. I don’t go to the trouble of being provocative.
Nobody can have the power to turn truths, realities upside down.
Trying to divert attention from the environmental impact of razing green space for a shopping mall, Erdogan emphasises that the re-development will have a large cultural centre as well as residences — “Gezi Park will be a museum of the city.”
Talking about police attacks on protesters, Erdogan says, “Yes, there was some excessive use of tear gas,” but continues, “What if they [the police] didn’t? We saw what happened with protesters burning police cars.”
The Prime Minister asks, “Why are you doing this, did we take your democratic and voting rights away?”, and then attacks the villain: “There is this trouble called Twitter now. Social media, in my opinion, is the biggest trouble for all societies.”
Erdogan insists the events “have nothing to do with trees”. Instead, “this is an ideological fight against” him, as municipal elections approach. He repeats that he has a majority of the electorate and says, “The people supporting my party are calling and asking are we going to stay silent?”
He repeats, “You can’t say you can meet wherever you want. This bothers the society and disrespects the rest of society.”
As for social issues in the protests, Erdogan says of restrictions on alcohol, “I do all of this because I love all of my citizens, I want them to get rid of their bad habits, I want all of their support.”
The Prime Minister insists that anyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic.
Police kicking a protester:
A guitarist in front of riot police (photo: Kemal Aslan):
Istanbul’s Taksim Square this morning:
Following the spark of police violence on Friday, thousands of protesters established themselves not only in Taksim Square — the focal point of demonstrations — but also in other areas of Istanbul and in other Turkish cities on Saturday.
The protests began last Tuesday with a sit-in against the re-development of Istanbul’s Gezi Park into a shopping mall, but — amid the police use of tear gas and water cannon, with 79 injuries and almost 1000 arrests — have expanded into a challenge to the rule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Riot police pulled back on Saturday from Taksim Square, but there were clashes in other areas of the city and in the capital Ankara.
Confrontation in the Besiktas area of Istanbul last night:
In a speech on Saturday, Erdogan was defiant, declaring that “illegal organisations [were] provoking naive protesters” and there can be no “safe haven” for demonstrations: “There are games being played….Nobody has the right to protest against the law and democracy.”