After 12 days of anti-government demonstration, the police take to the crowds
For the past 12 days thousands of anti-government protesters have staked-out Istanbul's central Taksim Square and Ankara's Kizilay Square. Today it has come to a head as police take to the crowd.
They used water canons on the protesters, which forced many of them off the main square. They also let loose with tear gas and rubber bullets. However many of the demonstrators were ready for the police take-over and some of them fought back. Fireworks were thrown as well as fire bombs and stones.
The demonstration began peacefully over a week and a half ago, on the 28th of May, against plans to re-develop Gaezi Park in Istanbul. Police immdeiately responded, keeping close to quarters on the growing crowd.
On the 31st of May violence began to erupt as riot police used force in order to disperse the activists. However this did not have the desired effect and the unrest exploded the next day as anti-government protesters took to the streets in other Turkish cities.
Prime Minister Erdogan on the 2nd of June blamed "troublemaker" Twitter for "fanning the flames of unrest" while he dismissed the protesters as "vandals."
The situation has since escalated on a mass scale. By the 10th day over 10, 000 anti-government protesters had congregated in the square. The Prime minister declared to his many supporters that these demonstrators were "marginals" and "lutors", and to the protesters he remarked: "You have started this fight against us. You will pay the price very heavily," to which his reporters cried "Warrior Erdogan!"
Mark Lowen, BBC correspondent in Turkey says "This is increasingly a polarised country. Mr Erguan has got his support and it is very very large. But there are these vast sways of protest throughout the country."
"As that polarisation continues and deepens,Turkey is in pretty troubled waters" he adds.
Indeed, in response to the increasing threat of major political unrest, authorities ordered Police this morning to take control of the square. The conflict has lasted throughout the afternoon.
Many of the protesters have condemned the police's actions as far too aggressive, and refuse to move from Gaezi Park, even if their presence has been somewhat successfully removed from the adjoining square.
In reply to accusations of harshness on his part, Erdogan has replied in a televised address to members of parliament that "they say the prime minister is rough. So what was going to happen? Were we going to kneel down in front of these [people]?"
"If you call this roughness, I'm sorry, but this Tayyip Erdogan won't change."
He also said: "to those who…are at Taksim and elsewhere taking part in the demonstrations with sincere feelings: I call on you to leave those places and to end these incidents and I send you my love…. but for those who want to continue with the incidents I say: 'It's over.' As of now we have no tolerance for them."
His no tolerance policy was reinforced with the words: "not only will we end the actions, we will be at the necks of the provocateurs and terrorists and no-one will get away with it… I am sorry but Gezi Park is for taking promenades, not for occupation."