Turkish PM Erdoğan surprised at police 'patience' as two killed in clashes
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during an expanded meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) provincial chairs, May 23. AA Photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he was surprised by the "patience" of security forces during bloody clashes in Istanbul's Okmeydanı neighborhood, while slamming mourners of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan, saying the death of the 15-year-old has become “a thing of the past.”
"For God's sake, should police stand idly by against all of this? I don't understand how they stay so patient," Erdoğan said in Ankara at a party meeting May 23 following clashes in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı that left two people dead. Turkish PM said that police officers were injured when their car was hit by a Molotov cocktail thrown by protesters.
Some demonstrators in Okmeydanı were demanding to hold a ceremony for the victims of last week’s Soma mine disaster, as well as Gezi victim Berkin Elvan on May 22, before police intervened to disperse the group.
“What is it? They wanted to hold a ceremony to commemorate Berkin Elvan. Will we perform a ceremony for every death? He died and it’s over,” Erdoğan also said.
Elvan died in March after spending eight months in a coma after being hit by a police tear gas canister during the Gezi protests last summer.
Erdoğan has again hit out at the country’s Twitterati after last week’s Soma mine disaster.
Those who criticized the government for failing to provide timely help to the disaster-struck Soma, where 301 miners died, despite promoting its assistance to Africa as a great success, are "ruthless," Erdoğan said. He repeated his claim that Turkey, thanks to his government’s performance since 2002, has become powerful enough to help both Soma and Somalia.
“For God’s sake, what kind of an understanding do they have?” he asked, addressing an expanded meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) provincial chairs.
“Holding their smartphones in their hands, they sit and pontificate, lie and make provocations. That’s what they do. You can be rest assured that an issue doesn’t mean anything to them if it’s not on [Twitter’s trending list]. When they write 140-character-long messages on issues that are on the agenda there, they start seeing themselves as the saviors of the world,” Erdoğan added.
Earlier this week, Twitter and the Turkish government held talks in Dublin to iron out their differences, following a dispute in March that saw the authorities in Ankara block the site for two weeks, drawing a storm of international criticism.
Twitter will be more sensitive in responding to Turkish court orders calling for content to be removed from the site, and will open a live customer support service in Turkish to address complaints, a senior government official told Reuters news agency on May 21.