Scores arrested as Turks protest lira’s slump in major cities
Turkish police arrested scores of people as crowds congregated in major cities to protest the economic policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after a slump in the value of the lira.
Police in riot gear fought with demonstrators in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Kadikoy late on Wednesday and took 55 people into custody, local media including the Diken news website reported, citing a statement by the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD). Journalist Emre Orman published video footage of the scuffles between police officers and protestors on Twitter.
Demonstrations also occurred in the Istanbul districts of Şişli and Beylükdüzü, where police sought to break crowds forcefully and made several arrests.
Turkey’s lira has slumped against major currencies this year and inflation has surged to almost 20 percent, hurting the living standards of ordinary Turks. About half of people in Turkey earn salaries close to the minimum wage of 2,825 liras ($235) per month. The Turkish authorities have cracked down heavily on any public dissent since the nationwide Gezi Park protests of 2013.
In the western city of Izmir, several leftist groups held separate demonstrations, calling for the government to step down, Diken said. In Ankara, students congregated at the Middle East Technical University (ÖDTÜ), prompting police to intervene violently, according to a Marxist student group.
The lira dived by as much as 15 percent against the dollar to a record low on Tuesday after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he was doubling down on a policy of lowering interest rates despite the uptick in inflation. The currency’s losses have raised concern for a full-blown financial crisis in the country of 85 million people.
The lira was trading at around 12 per dollar on Thursday afternoon, off its all-time low of 13.52 per dollar.