Turkish police have arrested 31 more people over their alleged role in anti - government demonstrations that have rocked the country for three weeks.
A court in the capital, Ankara, ordered the arrest of 22 protesters on Saturday on charges of organizing the protests and engaging in violence. Nine others were also taken into custody on charges of damaging public property. The authorities also accused the detainees of working on behalf of a far-left terrorist group, named the Communist Marxist-Leninist Party (MLKP). On Friday, some 26 people appeared before a court in Ankara on charges of organizing the demonstrations against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Many countries and international organizations have expressed concern about the way the Turkish police have dealt with the anti-government protests. On June 18, Cem Ozdemir, the co-chair of Germany's opposition Green Party, who is of Turkish origin, criticized Erdogan over his handling of the unrest. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also expressed concern over the clashes between Turkish police and demonstrators, saying that officials and security forces responsible for the use of excessive force should be punished. The unrest began on May 31 after police broke up a sit-in held at Istanbul's Taksim Square to protest against a proposal to demolish Gezi Park. The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul's last public green spaces. Five people, including a police officer, have died in the clashes and more than 5,000 protesters and 600 police officers have been injured.