Despite Government Ban, Thousands Demonstrate in Ankara over Economic Crisis
Despite a government ban on demonstration, thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul early Saturday to protest the government's handling of Turkey's severe economic crisis that has led to increasing prices and layoffs, said reports.
Amid a strong police presence, workers, students and traders branded placards reading "No to the International Monetary Fund," "We want job security," or "Save workers and public sector employees, not bankrupt banks," said AFP.
Meanwhile, Turkey's new economy minister, Kemal Dervis, is due to unveil a package of long-awaited economic reforms during a press conference on Saturday, reported the Turkish Daily News.
Similar protest action would take place in 55 towns across the country, according to Kaya Guvenc, spokesperson for the Labor platform, a grouping of unions and civic parties, which has called for the demonstrations.
The protests have been banned in 20 locations by the government due to fears of rioting and violent clashes, but the public workers' union (Kesk) said Saturday it would defy the ban.
On Wednesday, some 129 demonstrators were detained by the Ankara police during a protest, said the paper. During the protests, 202 people were injured, including 137 policemen, the paper added.
The protest was the largest since the Turkish lira began plummeting in February, leading to soaring interest rates and a half-million layoffs.
Many of the demonstrators have accused the government of doing little to stabilize the economy.
Ankara was forced to float the Turkish lira on February 22 in the face of a financial shake-up, triggered by fears of political instability after an unprecedented public row between Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer over the fight against corruption.
The currency has so far lost about 40 percent of its value against the dollar, pushing prices up and causing significant job losses – Albawaba.com
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