Demonstrators in Istanbul accuse Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of slow action after Ankara terror attack on peace rally, and of censoring press and social media
Impromptu protests began in Istanbul on Saturday evening in response to the Turkish government’s handling of a terror attack in the capital that killed more than 90 people. Hundreds of protesters chanting anti-government slogans gathered in the city, blaming the authorities for the twin bomb attacks that targeted a peace rally in Ankara earlier that day.
Some called on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to resign and accused the ruling AK party of being responsible for the deaths. The protesters intended to march towards Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul. Police have previously prevented demonstrators from reaching the square, which was the focal point of weeks of violent anti-government protests in mid-2013.
The protests come as the Turkish government said it had imposed a temporary news blackout following the suspected suicide bombing at the pro-Kurdish march in Ankara. A government spokesman said the media censorship was of pictures showing the moment of the blast, gruesome or bloody images or “images that create a feeling of panic”. He said that news outlets could face a “full blackout” if they did not comply with the order.
Many people in Ankara reported being unable to access Twitter and other social media after the blasts. It was not clear whether authorities had blocked access to the sites. Turkey frequently imposes blackouts following attacks.
Meanwhile, a newspaper close to an Islamic cleric who opposes Erdoğan said its editor had been remanded in custody ahead of trial on charges of insulting the Turkish president on Twitter. The move has escalated fears of a media clampdown ahead of elections on 1 November.
Bulent Kenes, chief editor of the English-language paper, Today’s Zaman, was arrested at its Istanbul offices on Friday and sent to jail by court order. A crowd of about 200 people gathered at the paper’s offices to chant support for Kenes as he was taken away and held banners saying “Free media cannot be silenced”.