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Protesters clash with police over President Erdogan visit


Theresa May spoke out against the ‘troubling situation in Gaza’ and called for an independent investigation into the killing of dozens of Palestinians in the worst clashes in the region for years.

The Prime Minister said the prove should look into why the Israelis used life fire against Palestinians as they demonstrated near the border.

And it should also look into whether the militant group Hamas infiltrated the protests to stoke violence and discord.

She made the comments at a joint press conference with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who earlier today tore into the US and Israel over the ‘horrible massacre’.

Speaking at the press conference, Mrs May said:  ‘The loss of life we have seen is tragic and extremely concerning…it is disruptive to peace efforts and we urge all sides to show restraint.

‘There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday by having an independent investigation (which should look at) the use of live fire and the role of Hamas.      

Speaking in No 10 before the talks, Earlier, Mr Erdogan also spoke out against the violence unleashed yesterday.

Theresa May spoke out against the 'troubling situation in Gaza' and called for an independent investigation into the killing of dozens of Palestinians in the worst clashes in the region for years at a joint press conference today with President Erdogan

Theresa May spoke out against the ‘troubling situation in Gaza’ and called for an independent investigation into the killing of dozens of Palestinians in the worst clashes in the region for years at a joint press conference today with President Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked Israel and the US after dozens of Palestinians - many unarmed - were killed by Israeli sniper fire during protests yesterday and today, as he sat next to Theresa May in Downing Street today (pictured)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked Israel and the US after dozens of Palestinians – many unarmed – were killed by Israeli sniper fire during protests yesterday and today, as he sat next to Theresa May in Downing Street today (pictured)

Theresa May is meeting with Turkish President Erdogan today where the pair will discuss their partnership on security matters

Theresa May is meeting with Turkish President Erdogan today where the pair will discuss their partnership on security matters

The Prime Minister literally rolled out the red carpet for Mr Erdogan's visit to Downing Street today where the pair are having bilateral talks 

The Prime Minister literally rolled out the red carpet for Mr Erdogan’s visit to Downing Street today where the pair are having bilateral talks 

He said: ‘While we are focusing our talks on the Syria issue, yesterday unfortunately significant incidents have unfolded in Palestine after the US decided to move their embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

‘We are facing significant challenges and there are a lot of martyrs. There are more than 2,000 wounded and more than 50 casualties.

‘Unfortunately while Israel was busy undertaking this horrible massacre, unfortunately the United States paved the way for this and laid the foundations.’ 

Speaking at the press conference later, he branded Israel an ‘occupant power’ and accuse them to ‘waging terrorism’.

He added: ‘The international community should mobilise to stop this oppression, once and for all.’ 

He also criticised Donald Trump for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem – opening it yesterday in a move many said piled fuel on the boiling tensions in the region.  

Dozens have been killed in angry clashes at the Gaza border with Israel over the past 48 hours as Palestinians march against the blockade imposed on them.

The first day of protests came on the same day the US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem – sparking huge controversy ad ending the long abided-by decision of Western powers to station their diplomats in Tel Aviv in order not to antagonise the conflict. 

Anti-Erdogan protesters clashed with police outside Downing Street today (pictured)  as they tore into ministers for hosting the Turkish president as he locks up political opponents and human rights campaigners at home.

Anti-Erdogan protesters clashed with police outside Downing Street today (pictured)  as they tore into ministers for hosting the Turkish president as he locks up political opponents and human rights campaigners at home.

Pro-Kurdish groups raised concerns about human rights abuses by Mr Erdogan's government and urged Mrs May to distance herself from the Turkish leader

Pro-Kurdish groups raised concerns about human rights abuses by Mr Erdogan’s government and urged Mrs May to distance herself from the Turkish leader

The angry scenes erupted just hours before Theresa May is due to hold talks with President Erdogan at Downing Street 

The angry scenes erupted just hours before Theresa May is due to hold talks with President Erdogan at Downing Street 

Many dozens of protesters gathered in Whitehall today (pictured) to vent their fury at the Turkish leader's visit 

Many dozens of protesters gathered in Whitehall today (pictured) to vent their fury at the Turkish leader’s visit 

Demonstrators hold placards as they protest against Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the entrance to Downing Street amid a heavy police presence 

Demonstrators hold placards as they protest against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the entrance to Downing Street amid a heavy police presence 

As the protests raged President Erdogan was granted the honour of holding a private meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace today

As the protests raged President Erdogan was granted the honour of holding a private meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace today

President Erdogan's wife Emine also met with the Queen. They were granted the audience despite criticisms from human rights campaigners that he used the failed military coup against him in 2016 to launch and unfair and autocratic crackdown on his critics 

President Erdogan’s wife Emine also met with the Queen. They were granted the audience despite criticisms from human rights campaigners that he used the failed military coup against him in 2016 to launch and unfair and autocratic crackdown on his critics 

The Turkish president has been given the red carpet treatment for his three day visit – given private audiences with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles at Clarence House.

But his presence has sparked angry protests by his critics who clashed with police outside Downing Street today as they demonstrated against President Erdogan’s purge of political opponents in Turkey.     

Why is Theresa May defying protesters to host President Erdogan in London? 

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is visiting London. Here we look at the controversy surrounding the trip.

Why are protests being held over the visit?

Turkey’s president has faced intense criticism after purging opponents in the wake of the failed 2016 coup. Around 120,000 public servants have been sacked and at least 50,000 people detained, including lawyers, police officers and academics.

What about critics in the media?

Analysis by the Stockholm Centre for Freedom, a human rights organisation run by journalists, found 254 journalists and media workers were in jail in Turkey, as of May 8.

Turkey is now ranked 157 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index. 

Why is No 10 keen for him to come?

Downing Street says the visit is an opportunity for Britain and Turkey to demonstrate their close relationship and Theresa May will be particularly keen to foster good links as the UK prepares to quit the European Union.

It comes 16 months after the Prime Minister met the president in Ankara, where they agreed a £100 million defence deal to help develop fighter jets for the Turkish air force.

Is this all about Brexit then?

Theresa May’s political opponents believe it is. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the Government ‘appears to have substituted diplomacy for sycophancy in its pursuit of Brexit’. 

 Scotland Yard said six men, aged between 17 and 54, were arrested during the anti-Erdogan clashes in Whitehall today. 

Critics have accused the PM cosying up to a totalitarian leader for economic as he imposes a crackdown on political opponents, journalists and human rights campaigners in Turkey in the wake of the failed military coup against him in 2016. 

Mrs May condemned last year’s failed coup in Turkey.

But in a pointed reference to claims about repression and abuse of human rights, she added: ‘It is important that in the defence of democracy… Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend.’ 

Today noisy protests erupted outside Downing Street with demonstrators chanting ‘Turkish state, fascist state’ through a public address system.

They waved banners opposite the gates to Downing Street branding Mr Erdogan a terrorist.

Pro-Kurdish groups raised concerns about human rights abuses by Mr Erdogan’s government and urged Mrs May to distance herself from the Turkish leader.

Mr Erdogan has been accused or purging opponents, sacking thousands of officials and jailing critics and journalists.

Britain is rolling out the red carpet for the Turkish leader, who is due to meet the Queen during his time in the country.  

Downing Street insisted Mrs May will raise human rights issues during the talks, which are expected to be followed by a press conference.

‘Our close relationship with Turkey allows us to have frank discussions,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

‘You can expect the Prime Minister to raise human rights.

‘We have always been clear that we want Turkey to uphold its international obligations including respect for freedom of expression and political freedoms.

‘It is also an opportunity for the United Kingdom and Turkey to build on our close co-operation on counter-terrorism, migration, regional stability, trade and in other vital areas.

‘They have a close working relationship and there are many areas of shared interest which they look forward to discussing.’

Kurdish woman Meryl, 27, from London – who did not want to give her surname for fear of reprisals when she visits Turkey – was among scores of pro-Kurdish protesters outside Downing Street ahead of Mr Erdogan’s arrival.

‘He is literally killing humans – Kurdish children, babies, every human being,’ she said,

‘There are no human rights for Kurds in Turkey. If you are Kurdish, you get killed, you get raped.’

She said her message to Mrs May was: ‘Stop supporting Turkey. I’m sure she clearly sees there is a war in Turkey and civilians – not terrorists – are getting killed.’ 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Prince Charles at his official residence Clarence House this morning (pictured together)  - while the angry scenes erupted in nearby Whitehall

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Prince Charles at his official residence Clarence House this morning (pictured together)  – while the angry scenes erupted in nearby Whitehall

The two men smiled and posed for the cameras as they met for talks at the royal residence  today - but Mr Erdogan is facing heavy criticisms from human rights campaigners over his crackdown of political opponents in Turkey

The two men smiled and posed for the cameras as they met for talks at the royal residence  today – but Mr Erdogan is facing heavy criticisms from human rights campaigners over his crackdown of political opponents in Turkey

 Fellow protester Fero Firat said: ‘Erdogan is very authoritarian and he wants to be one man ruling every aspect of life in Turkey.

‘Since 2015 he has killed over 1,000 civilians in the Kurdish region.

‘Theresa May is selling weapons to Turkey and he is here, probably for that reason.

 ‘Our demand for the Prime Minister in the UK is not to sell weapons to Erdogan because he is using them against civilians.’

Further down Whitehall, separated by a large police presence, a small counter-demonstration of Erdogan supporters waved Turkish flags.

Among the groups protesting against Mr Erdogan’s visit were Reporters Without Borders, the Cartoonists Rights Network International and the Index on Censorship.

A Palestinian man hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli forces on May 15, 2018 near the border fence with Israel today as the region suffers its most deadly protests in years

A Palestinian man hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli forces on May 15, 2018 near the border fence with Israel today as the region suffers its most deadly protests in years

A Palestinian protester tends to an injured comrade during clashes near the border with Israel today. Critics of the US say Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem antagonised the already tense situation

A Palestinian protester tends to an injured comrade during clashes near the border with Israel today. Critics of the US say Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem antagonised the already tense situation

Around 250 journalists and media workers are in jail in Turkey.   

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: ‘This visit is an opportunity for Theresa May to show the President that human rights and a thriving civil society in Turkey are a priority for the UK.

‘Under the cloak of a state of emergency, the Turkish authorities have deliberately set about dismantling civil society, locking up human rights defenders, shutting down organisations and creating a suffocating climate of fear.

‘Turkey must lift the current state of emergency and other such draconian measures before there is no independent, critical civil society left. 

‘This should include the release of human rights defenders, including our Amnesty colleague Taner Kılıç, who has been held for almost a year without a shred of evidence.’ 



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