A protester holds up a poster with a picture of Turkish Prime Minister’s son Bilal Erdogan reading “Bilal, pay for our tickets as well” during a demonstration against corruption and the goverment, at Taksim Underground station in Istanbul yesterday.
ANKARA: Hundreds of demonstrators flooded metro stations in Turkey yesterday in fresh protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s beleaguered government, which saw yet another lawmaker defect over a corruption probe.
Hasan Hami Yildirim quit Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after criticising the government for exerting pressure on the judiciary over the graft investigation, which has plunged Turkey into political turmoil just three months ahead of key elections.
A string of public figures including high-profile businessmen and the sons of three ministers were detained on December 17 over allegations of bribery for construction projects as well as illicit money transfers to sanctions-hit Iran.
Five MPs including a former culture minister have resigned from the AKP since the raids, which the government has suggested were instigated by supporters of an influential US-based Turkish cleric.
Erdogan was also forced into a major cabinet reshuffle after the resignation last week of three ministers whose sons were implicated in the probe. The corruption scandal has sparked a fresh wave of protests against Erdogan, half a year after he faced down a series of nationwide anti-government demonstrations.
Yesterday, about 1,000 protesters turned up at the metro at Istanbul’s main Taksim Square after a young homeless man was reportedly beaten by a security guard when he tried to board without paying.
“The people’s rage will burn down the government,” they chanted. “They are thieves,” they shouted, while at a metro station in capital Ankara, riot police confronted hundreds of demonstrators.
The corruption scandal has exposed a seething feud between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former ally, influential Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose supporters hold key positions in the police and the judiciary.