Turkish police detain 87 people protesting soaring cost of living

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Police officers have intervened in demonstrations protesting the rapidly rising cost of living in Turkey caused by a steep fall in the value of the lira, detaining at least 93 in İstanbul, Çanakkale, Ankara and Mersin, local media reported on Thursday.

Forty-six men and 24 women were detained for “staging a demonstration without permission” in the Kadıköy, Şişli, Eyüpsultan, Bakırköy and Beylikdüzü districts of İstanbul late on Wednesday, according to a statement by the city’s police department.

Sixty-nine of the protestors were released early on Thursday.

At least 13 people were also detained in a protest in Çanakkale, among whom was Deniz Uysal, head of the Çanakkale branch of leftist youth organization Halkevleri (People’s Houses), local media also said.

Police also intervened in a demonstration staged by a group of people in Mersin who had gathered over a call on social media and chanted, “Government, resign!” and “We can’t make ends meet,” on Wednesday evening while clanging on pots and pans.

Four of them were detained when the group was preparing to make a public statement to express their concerns over the loss in value of the lira, media reports said.

Six protestors in the Mamak district of Ankara who were holding placards that said “We can’t make ends meet” and calling on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to resign due to poor management of the economy were also detained.

A group of students from Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) encountered the police while protesting the dire economic situation and chanting “ODTÜ is resisting the AKP!”

İzmir was also the scene of a protest, with hundreds marching and shouting “The AKP will be held to account by the people” and nearby citizens showing support by making a racket.

The Turkish currency has shed 45 percent of its value this year, becoming the world’s worst-performing currency in 2021.

The lira hit a record low on Tuesday, exceeding 13 to the dollar. It has lost around 40 percent in value against the US dollar since the start of the year.

The Turkish central bank last week cut its policy rate from 16 to 15 percent despite inflation running at nearly 20 percent after pressure from Erdoğan.

Central banks usually raise interest rates when inflation surges to dampen spending, but Erdoğan is known for his unorthodox view that high interest rates cause inflation.

Erdoğan on Monday defended the policies and warned that the country was in a “war of economic independence,” triggering further decline in the lira’s value.

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