icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

‘Clearing Gezi Park is my duty’ says Erdogan amid fierce protests (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Thousands gathered in Istanbul to support the Turkish Prime Minister as he gave his speech at a park not far from Taksim square. Meanwhile police continued to use tear gas and water cannon against protesters across Istanbul.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on the protests in Turkey

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.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) makes a speach to supporters during a rally on June 16, 2013, in Istanbul (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)

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.

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. 

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.

People run to avoid tear gas during protests at Kizilay square in central Ankara, June 16, 2013 (Reuters / Dado Ruvic)

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”.