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Turkey Offers Possible Referendum on Public Park

  • VOA News

Turkish protesters in Kugulu Park in Ankara, Turkey June 12, 2013

Turkish protesters in Kugulu Park in Ankara, Turkey June 12, 2013

Turkey's government says it may be willing to put to referendum the question of building in a public park -- the issue that sparked violent anti-government protests.

Spokesman Huseyin Celik said Wednesday that in a democracy, only the will of the people counts. But he again demanded that the protests stop.

Celik spoke after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with a delegation of protesters. But many of the other demonstrators brushed off the talks, saying the government hand-picked the delegation.

Government plans to tear up an Istanbul park and build a shipping center set off the protests nearly two weeks ago. They quickly built up into marches against the government and Mr. Erdogan. The opposition accuses him of imposing his conservative Islamic views on secular Turks.

The prime minister counters that demonstrators are deliberately trying to damage Turkey's image and economy.

Riot police have used tear gas, water cannons, and stun grenades to drive off the marchers in Istanbul and Ankara. Four people have died, about 5,000 people hurt and thousands of others arrested.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.