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Rally in Turkey turns violent as student march nears AKP HQ

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 1/5/2011 12:00:00 AM |

A 'battle' broke out between students and police in Ankara on Wednesday after students tried to march to the AKP's headquarters. (UPDATED)

A “battle” broke out between students and police in Ankara on Wednesday after students tried to march to the city’s headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

The students gathered in front of the Middle East Technical University, or METU, to protest “the Justice and Development Party administration and attacks on students from police forces who are under their control,” according to a press release distributed by the students Monday.

Around 500 students from METU, Hacettepe and Ankara Universities gathered in front of METU’s main gate after lunch to march four kilometers to the AKP’s headquarters.

The exits to the university campus were blocked by approximately 2,000 police officers who made it impossible for the students to leave the campus. The police could not step foot on campus without consent from the rector.

The students, after shouting slogans on campus for a while, marched forward only to be greeted by pressurized water canons and tear gas after rocks were thrown toward the police barricade.

The students fought back with rocks and sticks, accidentally hitting journalists who had already gotten their share of water and tear gas while documenting what witnesses called a “battlefield.”

The “battle” continued for an hour until the students went back inside the campus when Çetin Soysal of the oppositional Republican People’s Party, or CHP, arrived to talk to them.

The students, however, chanted for him to leave, prompting the politician to escape from the campus to avoid being hit by rocks that had been thrown at him.

Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gül’s office has announced that he would meet university representatives at a luncheon Thursday.

The students also protested for “the basic democratic right of equal, scientific, free education in their native language.”

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