Protesters are forced to seek shelter after being attacked by police during a demonstration in Kadıköy on Feb 25. REUTERS photo
Several protests were held in Turkey’s main cities on Feb. 25 to denounce the latest leaked tapes featuring a conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and his son over the hiding of a large sum of cash in the wake of the Dec. 17.
Police crushed protests on Istanbul with tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannon as hundreds gathered in the Asian-side district of Kadıköy, calling on the government to resign. Demonstrators defended themselves against the police onslaught by forming burning barricades and launching fireworks and rocks at officers.
The intervention started after protesters attempted to march to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) district headquarters, Doğan news agency reported.
A branch of the state-owned bank Ziraat Bank was ransacked by a group of protesters during the crackdown.
Another state-owned bank, Halkbank, is at the center of the latest corruption allegations after $4.5 million was allegedly found in shoeboxes in the home of its former general manager, Süleyman Aslan, in a police raid on Dec. 17, 2013.
Dozens of people were also detained.
Police also resorted to tear gas and water cannon during protests in Ankara
and İzmir. Other demonstrations were staged in İzmit, Trabzon, Eskişehir, Bursa, Antalya, Antakya and Çanakkale.
The latest tapes to emerge amid a massive graft scandal are sending shockwaves through Turkish politics, with the government denying claims as “fabrications” and the opposition urging Erdoğan to resign.
The prime minister, previously targeted by other tapes revealing pressure on the media, virulently rejected the claims, calling the fresh leak a “vile attack.”
The ruling AKP has repeatedly accused the movement of Fethullah Gülen of orchestrating the graft probe, launching a massive purge within the police and the judiciary, widely considered to be targeting the U.S.-based Islamic scholar’s sympathizers.