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Erdogan Calls For Immediate End To Protests


Police, Demonstrators Clash In Turkey
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WATCH: Several thousand Turkish demonstrators amassed on streets surrounding Istanbul's central Taksim Square on June 1. (Reuters video)

Protests have continued overnight in the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Ankara.

Istanbul's central Taksim Square, where the protests have been focused, was quieter after riot police pulled back their armored trucks late on June 1.

Earlier on the same date, police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters in Istanbul and Ankara for a second straight day.

More than 900 people were arrested at more than 90 separate demonstrations. Medics said some 1,000 people had been injured in the clashes in Istanbul.

The unrest began in Istanbul last week after protests against plans to allow construction in a park near Taksim Square.

The police crackdown there sparked wider demonstrations against Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to go ahead with plans to develop Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, despite violent protests sparked by the controversial project.

On June 1, Erdogan vowed to restore order in and around Taksim Square, calling on protesters there to end their demonstrations “immediately.”

Police on June 1 used tear gas and water cannons against the demonstrators, who have begun to call for Erdogan’s resignation.

Initially, authorities were trying to prevent crowds from reaching Taksim Square. But after Erdogan warned police against using excessive force, authorities pulled back and let the demonstrations on the square continue.

"Despite provocations by illegal organizations, despite the damage done to local shops, despite attacks with stones and petrol bombs, the police continue to operate with the authority they were given," Erdogan said. "But, as I said before, I have given orders to the interior minister and to the governor that necessary steps will be taken if excessive force is used."

The trouble began on May 31 after police used tear gas to disperse thousands who were protesting against plans to develop a nearby park -- one of Istanbul’s few remaining green areas.

The protests then began to take on an antigovernment tone and soon spread to Ankara and the coastal city of Izmir -- signaling widespread anger at the government and the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Erdogan on June 1 also refuted complaints by demonstrators and reports by international media organizations that the development plan calls for the construction of a shopping mall.

"They say a shopping mall will be built there, but when the Taksim military barracks are built a shopping mall might be constructed on the ground floor or a city museum," he said. "We haven't given our final decision yet."

In Ankara on June 1, police clashed with protesters who were marching toward the parliament building.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP, and the BBC
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