Turkish students plan anti-government protest

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The Independent Online

Inspired by mass demonstrations against dictators across the Arab world, a group of Turkish students have camped out in the centre of Istanbul for a three-day protest against the elected government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The "Youth are in the Square" demonstration brings together complaints that include joblessness, corruption, the building of nuclear power plants and other policies of the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Turkey holds parliamentary elections on Sunday and the mildly Islamist AKP is expected to win a third term easily, according to polls.

The students are planning to remain in Istanbul's Taksim Square overnight. They said they would resist "peacefully" if the police tried to remove them.

"The streets are the direct democracy area," one protester, Alper Alemdar, 22, said. "In parliament it is impossible, politicians create corruption. Our democracy is not good, but we have elections."

The AKP has presided over an unprecedented period of economic prosperity. The European Commission has forecast 6.1 per cent growth for the Turkish economy in 2011; the EU average is 1.8 per cent.