Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces the threat of a second front opening after 18 days of street protests against his government, with the country’s two biggest trade unions entering the fray.
They have called on their members to strike and make for Taksim square, and nearly 800,000 workers across the country have come out in support.
“We want a more democratic country where people can express
themselves freely. Government should not heap such pressure on
us,” said one union member.
While the unions took to the streets of Ankara Taksim itself, and Gezi park in Istanbul are sealed off and the police are keeping anyone away. Here the protest appears broken, with groups milling around wondering what to do next.
“Above all else, Gezi Park has become an image, a symbol for the people, the public. It represents freedom, it represents resistance. So shutting this place down doesn’t mean anything,” said one Istanbul resident.
The Turkish Interior Minister, responding to the unions’ strike threat, has deployed military police in Istanbul, after saying he would consider putting troops on the streets if violence continued.