Turkey protests spread online, and in the streets
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Thousands of people have taken to social media in Turkey as violent clashes between police and protesters over the construction of a shopping mall in Istanbul's Gezi Park entered a second day on Saturday.
Protests against the construction of a shopping mall in Istanbul's Gezi Park in Taksim Square entered their second day on Saturday after activists were violently dispersed by Turkish police on Friday.
Police pulled back from Istanbul's Taksim Square on Saturday, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan conceded that security forces may have used excessive force to disperse protests at the site.
“There have been some mistakes, extremism in police response," Erdogan said, adding that legal action would be taken against officers who acted disproportionately. But he also insisted that plans to redevelop the iconic square would go ahead.
The violent police response triggered mass protests in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities across the country with the demonstrations now channeling widespread frustration and anger with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who is seen as becoming increasingly authoritarian.
Early on Saturday, a group of protesters tried to seize the building of the Turkish ruling party in the province of Izmit as the local police broke up the demonstrators.
The hashtag #OccupyGezi went viral on Twitter as the news spread quickly online.
Some of the powerful images that have surfaced on social media from the raid and the protest include a picture of protesters marching across the Bosphorus bridge and making their way to Gezi Park in Taksim Square.
Demonstrators took to the internet to set up a livestream of the demonstrations, in protest at the Turkish government's media blackouts.
It wasn't long before activists created their very own Tumblr page dedicated to images capturing the two-day standoff with police. The pictures below capture the clashes between protesters and police.
Over 60 people have been arrested and a further 12 injured from Friday's clashes with police, according to the Turkish government.
A page dubbed #OccupyGezi also popped up on Facebook giving citizen journalists and activists another avenue to share their photos from the clashes.
In an interview posted on YouTube, a Turkish activist explains why this protest isn't just about the mere expansion of a shopping mall. Instead, the tensions stem from the government's overall policies--including a new bill that bans late night drinking from 10pm, the building of a third bridge in Istanbul and the deteriorating state of Turkey's free press.
But it's not just multimedia images and video that have sprung up on social networking sites. Demonstrators also spearheaded an online petition, calling on Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to stop the violent crackdown, gathering almost 5,000 signatures in a mere few hours.
"The Turkish government is discrediting itself by violently cracking down on citizens who are peacefully assembling and expressing their opinions," says the campaign message on Avaaz.org, a community petition site."As concerned citizens from around the world, we urge you to immediately cease using violence against protesters in Taksim Square -- including the use of tear gas and pressurized water," the petition adds.
But in a defiant speech on Saturday, Prime Minister Erdogan insisted that the park project would go ahead.