Turkey wants more powers for police

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The Turkish government has submitted to the parliament a bill that would authorize police forces to use weapons against demonstrators and to make more arrests during protest rallies.

The bill would enable Turkish police to arrest the protesters who “jeopardize the safety of themselves or other individuals,” and respond with arms to the use of Molotov cocktails and fireworks during rallies, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported on Tuesday.

If approved by the parliament, the bill would authorize Turkish law enforcement authorities to detain protestors without charge for up to 24 hours if they are arrested in an “illegal demonstration,” while this period could be extended up to 48 hours if the arrests are made during violent protests.

The bill proposed to the Turkish parliament also focuses on several other topics, including broadening the powers of local governors and changing the structure of the gendarmerie and coastguard.

Turkish police have stepped up their crackdown on anti-government protesters since May 2013, when they broke up a sit-in at in Istanbul’s Taksim Square against the proposed demolition of the Gezi Park.

Nationwide demonstrations were launched against the ruling Justice and Development Party and then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is currently the country’s president, with police using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators.

Erdogan came under fire over the heavy-handed handling of the demonstrations.
Several people lost their lives and thousands were injured in the protests. The Turkish government also arrested many activists.

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