Turkey PM vows 'no more tolerance'

2013-06-11 14:57
A protester throws back a tear gas canister during clashes in Taksim square in Istanbul. (Kostas Tsironis, AP)

A protester throws back a tear gas canister during clashes in Taksim square in Istanbul. (Kostas Tsironis, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Istanbul - Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to retake an Istanbul protest square on Tuesday as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he would show "no more tolerance" for the unrelenting mass demonstrations against his Islamic-rooted government.

Hundreds of police stormed the city's Taksim Square, the epicentre of nearly two weeks of deadly unrest, in the early morning and brought bulldozers to clear the makeshift barriers erected by demonstrators after police pulled out of the area on 1 June.

The police action surprised protesters, many of whom were dozing in nearby Gezi Park, because it came just hours after Erdogan agreed to hold talks with protest leaders on Wednesday, his first major concession since the trouble began.

But the premier made no mention of the olive branch on Tuesday and resumed his tough stance against the demonstrators who have thrown up the biggest challenge yet to his decade-long rule.

"This episode is now over. We won't show any more tolerance," the premier told lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a speech broadcast live on television.

Smoke filled Taksim Square as police doused protesters with tear gas and jets of waters and urged them to retreat to the adjoining Gezi Park. Some demonstrators, in helmets and gas masks, responded with molotov cocktails, fireworks and stones.

Tarnished image

"Can you believe that? They attack Taksim, gas us in the morning just after proposing talks with us? What kind of leader is that?" said Yulmiz, aged 23, after waking up to the clashes in his tent in Gezi Park.

"We won't abandon Gezi, they can send thousands of policemen," he vowed. "I am not afraid of their water cannon, it'll be my first shower in three days."

The nationwide unrest first erupted after police cracked down heavily on 31 May on a campaign to save Gezi Park from redevelopment.

The trouble spiralled into mass displays of anger against Erdogan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian, tarnishing Turkey's image as a model of Islamic democracy.

Erdogan said on Tuesday that four people, including a policeman, had died. The national doctors' union confirmed the death toll had climbed from three to four after a protester succumbed to his injuries but gave no further details. Nearly 5 000 people have been injured.

In a speech to lawmakers broadcast live on television, Erdogan urged "sincere" protesters in Gezi Park to pull back, warning that their environmental campaign was being hijacked by "an illegal uprising against the rule of democracy".

Symbolic gesture


After nearly three hours of confrontations, groups of people milled around Taksim Square largely unopposed, chanting and booing, as police guarded key exit points and continued to set off the occasional burst of tear gas.

In a symbolic gesture, police removed flags and anti-Erdogan banners from a nearby building and replaced them with a single Turkish flag and a large portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, whose image has also been adopted by the protesters.

Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu sought to justify the police intervention, saying the protesters' takeover of Taksim Square "tarnished the country's image before the eyes of the world".

The police would not interfere with the protesters camping out in Gezi Park, he told reporters.

Tens of thousands at the weekend ignored Erdogan's call to end their demonstrations in cities across Turkey after he warned his patience was running out.

Overnight, trouble flared again in the capital Ankara, where riot police doused hundreds of protesters with tear gas for a third consecutive day.

Still favourite

Opponents accuse Erdogan of repressing critics - including journalists, minority Kurds and the military - and of pushing conservative Islamic values on the mainly Muslim but staunchly secular nation.

But the 59-year-old, in power since 2002, remains the country's favourite politician. His AKP has won three elections in a row and took nearly half the vote in the 2011 polls, having presided over strong economic growth.

The premier has urged loyalists to respond to the demonstrators by voting for the AKP in local polls next year.

Turkey will see both local and presidential elections in 2014. The AKP plans to launch its first campaign rallies in Ankara and Istanbul next weekend, expected to bring tens of thousands into the streets.

"We will take to the squares to make the voices of the silent heard," Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Turkey, a country of 76 million at the crossroads of East and West, is a key strategic partner in the region for the United States and other Western allies. Many of them have criticised Erdogan's handling of the crisis.

Read more on:    recep tayyip erdogan  |  turkey  |  turkey protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

11 things men don’t know about their clothes

There’s actually a logical explanation for that little button under your collar.

 
 

Men24.com

Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!
SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.