Thousands protest in Istanbul against higher living costs

Istanbul (AFP) –


Thousands of protesters on Saturday took to the streets in Istanbul to demonstrate against the rising cost of living and crippling inflation in Turkey.

Surrounded by a heavy police presence, the protesters held banners with references to the "yellow vest" movement in France, which began as a demonstration against fuel price hikes but snowballed into anti-government protests, an AFP correspondent reported.

The protest, organised by the KESK, a confederation of public service workers unions, drew people from all over Turkey including the northwestern provinces of Edirne, Bursa and Yalova, the correspondent said.

They shouted "work, bread, freedom" and also carried banners saying "the crisis is theirs, the street is ours" and "Haziran" which means June in Turkish.

June refers to the mass 2013 demonstrations against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule sparked by the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park in Istanbul.

Saturday's protest comes almost a week after thousands of people demonstrated in another KESK rally against the cost of living in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

The Turkish economy has come under heavy strain since a currency crisis in August and inflation reached 25.24 percent in October, a 15-year-high.

Although inflation dropped to 21.62 in November, the price of everyday goods remains high.

Since the start of this year, the lira has lost nearly 22.5 percent in value against the US dollar.

The country's economic growth has also slowed down raising fears of a recession after the economy contracted by 1.1 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinking output based on a quarter-on-quarter comparison.