‘Clearing Gezi Park is my duty’ says Erdogan amid fierce protests (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
“Clearing Gezi Park is my duty,” Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the cheering crowds of supporters.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader addressed his supporters at Kazlicesme Square as part of the party‘s official launch of the local elections campaign, which is set to be held in March next year.
“Those who wonder about what’s going on in Turkey should better look at Kazlicesme, at Istanbul,” said Erdogan.
He also slammed the international media for showing a ‘false’
picture of Turkey and called on the Turkish citizens not to
believe ‘lies’ of the foreign media.
“We will determine social media provocateurs one by one,”
the Prime minister also warned with reference to protesters as
quoted by local Anadolu news agency.
Outside the square, police continued to use intense tear gas and
water cannon to disperse protesters trying to gather in
neighborhoods close to Taksim Square.
Fierce clashes in Nişantaşı and Teşvikiye neighborhoods in central İstanbul.— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) June 16, 2013
The protests started almost three weeks ago initially against the refurbishment of Gezi park. Since then, in the wake of the harsh police response, the demonstrations grew into anti-government rallies with protesters accusing Erdogan of becoming authoritarian during his 10 years in power.
It's extraordinary,everywhere I see people on their balconies with whistles, pots, pans, tambourines anything banging them against #erdogan— Bel Trew - بل ترو (@Beltrew) June 16, 2013
Dozens of protesters were detained on Sunday, Hurriyet Daily
said. The city line ferries between the Anatolian and Asian sides
of Istanbul have been reportedly partially canceled in compliance
with a direction from the Istanbul Governorate.
Also on Sunday, riot police, having received reinforcements earlier, were joined by a helicopter in firing tear gas and chasing down young protesters who threw rocks on the streets around Taksim Square in an attempt to return. The police tried to prevent them from regrouping.
Other parts of the city saw similar incidents, including violence at the Galata Bridge, in the Sultanahmet district, and the trendy Nisantasi neighborhood.
“You cannot hold a rally wherever you wish,” said Erdogan explaining the extensive use of force by the riot police, adding that the demonstrations must be held “where it is allowed.”
As the protests reach almost three weeks of violence, the prime
minister acknowledges that the popular Gezi Park has been
“cleared and handed back to its people” adding “real
environmentalists are now at work in Gezi, planting flowers”.