The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the government authority that is responsible for providing assistance for British tourists overseas, has issued a travel warning for UK citizens intending to visit Turkey.
The warning comes in the wake of a wave of anti-government demonstrations that have been taking place over the weekend with escalating violence both from the protestors and the law enforcement officers. With in-excess of 1,700 people arrested during protests that have spread to 67 Turkish towns and cities, the FCO has advised all British nationals that visit the country to avoid any areas where demonstrations are taking place for their own safety.
The major cities of Istanbul and Ankara have witnessed the bulk of the violence, which first broke out on Friday. The police have responded to missiles thrown from the crowds and the burning of cars with tear gas and water cannons. As a result of the violence, the Turkish Doctor’s Association said that its members have treated in excess of 484 wounded protestors.
An update of the FCO’s travel advice that was issued on Saturday said, ‘Following recent demonstrations in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey, in which police used tear gas and water cannons, the possibility of further demonstrations remains high. We advise British nationals to avoid all demonstrations.’
The protest grew out of an initial peaceful gathering in Gezi Park, Istanbul, as a demonstration against the park being developed to create a shopping centre. However, as the protest gained momentum it was joined by large crowds, angry at the government’s increasingly authoritarian stance, perceived as Islamist, and which has also seen recent restrictions on the sale of alcohol.