Demonstrations banned in Ankara for month

Published April 12th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Ankara's governor on Wednesday, April 11, banned all kinds of demonstrations in the capital for a month in the wake of an unprecedented outburst of violence during an anti-government protest. 

 

"Starting from April 12, meeting and demonstrations in Ankara and its districts have been banned for a month," Governor Yahya Gur said in a written statement carried by Anatolia news agency. 

 

"We call on all professional groupings, associations, trade unions and political organizations as well as citizens to obey this ban," he added. 

 

The ban followed violent clashes between police and protestors earlier in the day, during a meeting organized by tradesmen to protest the government's handling of a grave economic crisis. 

 

The meeting, which had a prior permission from authorities, spiraled out of control when protestors turned into a furious mob hurling stones and sticks at police and vandalizing shops and vehicles. 

 

Police struggled for hours to restore order, using water cannons and tear gas against the protestors. Dozens of civilians, including several journalists, and police officers were injured. 

 

Gur blamed the eruption of violence on several groups of provocateurs, who disobeyed not only the word of the police, but also the organizers of the meeting. “This demonstration was a semblance of a street movement and an uprising," the governor said. 

 

In his justification of the ban, Gur said security forces had obtained intelligence that provocateurs were also planning to disrupt other meetings being organized by trade unions and chambers of commerce in the coming days. 

 

"We call on all citizens and members of professional organizations and trade unions to be prudent and to refrain from such street movements in the name of public order and tranquility," Gur's statement said. 

 

The chairman of the Turkish Confederation of Tradesmen and Artisans (TESK), Dervis Gunday, also blamed the violence on unidentified provocateurs and postponed all future demonstrations to prevent a repeat of the incidents. 

 

Wednesday's protest was the culmination of nationwide anti-government demonstrations since last week. They reflected growing public frustration with the government after it floated the Turkish lira in February in the face of a severe financial shake-up, causing the currency to lose more than 40 percent of its value against the dollar and sending prices skyrocketing. 

 

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, however, bluntly rejected mounting calls for the government's resignation Wednesday, although he did not rule out a cabinet reshuffle. — (AFP, Ankara) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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