3 Jun 2013

MFAT warning for New Zealanders

8:26 pm on 3 June 2013

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is warning New Zealanders in Turkey to avoid any protests and demonstrations.

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in anti-government demonstrations in major cities for the past four days.

The unrest was sparked on Friday by plans to build on Gezi Park near Taksim Square in Istanbul, but has broadened into nationwide anti-government protests.

Many people believe is becoming increasingly authoritarian and trying to impose Islamic values on the country, which is officially secular, and there are calls for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign.

There are 147 New Zealanders registered with the embassy in the capital Ankara. It has sent a message advising them to monitor events through the media and to be careful in public areas.

It says if they are in an area affected by demonstrations or violence, they should leave the immediate vicinity, remain indoors and follow any instructions issued by local authorities.

New Zealander Dylan Ware is in Istanbul and describes the city centre as a "war zone". He says many of his Turkish friends were heavily involved in the riots and it felt like a revolution is underway.

Mr Ware told Radio New Zealand News that people lean out their windows every night banging pots and flicking lights on and off to show their support for the protesters.