Demonstrations were held throughout Turkey's 81 provinces on Monday, April 16, to protest the official decision to extend of the state of emergency, expected to be announced this week. Notably, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Turkey's primary opposition party, staged protests in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Adana on Monday.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly participated in the sit-in protests, including around 5000 people in Istanbul's Taksim Square beginning at 12:00 (local time). Hundreds of police officers were deployed in the vicinity of Taksim Square, Istiklal Avenue, and Gezi Park; the police officers erected barriers in the area, closing the square, the Republic Monument, and the Taksim Metro exit. Additional protests are possible throughout Turkey, particularly in the abovementioned areas, in the coming days.
The protests come on the anniversary of Turkey's 2017 constitutional referendum that approved an expansion of presidential powers as proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The extension of the state of emergency, if approved, would be the seventh time it has been prolonged since initially being implemented following the failed coup d'état of July 15, 2016. Since then, nearly 150,000 people have been fired or forced to resign from their jobs and over 60,000 people have been arrested. Critics have repeatedly denounced the increasing restrictions of political freedom and human rights violations, which they claim are ongoing under the guise of national security.
Individuals in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul and Ankara, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. Individuals in the country should expect continuing heightened security measures and carry proper identification at all times (e.g. passport).
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