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Germany calls on Ankara to respect freedom to demonstrate

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Protesters escape from a water cannon as they clash with police during an anti-government demonstration in Ankara on June 16, 2013.

Germany has called on Turkey to respect the freedom of expression as anti-government protests continue in the country.

Reacting to the latest events taking place in Turkey, Germany’s government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a message posted on Twitter, “The German government has warned several times: freedom to demonstrate and freedom of expression must be guaranteed and peaceful citizens respected.”

Seibert said in another tweet that dialogue between protesters and the Turkish government should continue in Turkey, adding, “The German government again calls on all parties to reason.”

Moreover, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said by cracking down on protesters, Ankara “was sending completely wrong signals to the world,” and Europe.

Westerwelle expressed hope that the Turkish government would “reach out to those who want to exercise their right to demonstrate.”

On Sunday, Turkish riot police once again fired smoke canisters and used pepper spray and water cannons to disperse crowds of protesters trying to converge on Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

On the same day, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it was his “duty” to order riot police to evict protesters staying at Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

On Saturday night, Turkish police attacked anti-government protesters at Taksim, shortly after Erdogan ordered the demonstrators to evacuate the area.

The unrest in Turkey erupted after police broke up a sit-in staged at Taksim Square on May 31 to protest against a government plan for the redevelopment of Gezi Park.

The Turkish prime minister has faced international condemnation for his handling of the crisis. Turkish police have also been strongly criticized for using excessive force against the peaceful protests.

Five people, including a police officer, have reportedly died in the clashes and more than 5,000 protesters and 600 police officers have been wounded.


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