News / Europe

Turkish PM Issues Final Warning to Protesters

Anti-government protesters play soccer at Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 13, 2013.
Anti-government protesters play soccer at Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 13, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a "final warning" to protesters to leave Gezi Park in central Istanbul. Activists have said they will not leave the park until the government abandons plans to redevelop it. Erdogan has promised a local vote on its future.

In an address to party members Thursday, Erdogan said his patience is at an end with demonstrators occupying Gezi Park.

He said the Turkish government cannot wait any more because Gezi Park does not belong to occupying forces, but to the people. He added an appeal to mothers and fathers to "please take your children in hand and bring them out.''

Government plans to tear up Gezi Park and build a shopping center set off the protests. They quickly built up into marches against the government and Erdogan. The opposition accuses him of being authoritarian and imposing his conservative Islamic views on secular Turks.

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

Turkey's interior minister called Thursday for protesters to leave the park so that security forces could deal with what he said were illegal and terror groups.

The government claims the initial environmental protest has been hijacked by anti-democratic forces.

Ibrahim Keskin denied such accusations. He is from "Taksim Solidarity," one of the groups organizing the ongoing protests to protect the park. Keskin said the protesters will not leave.

He said protesters come from every walk of life in Turkey. Keskin said the people threatened with expulsion from the park are the real people of the country. He vowed that they are all staying, and he said there is nothing the authorities can do about it.

The prime minister's latest warning follows tentative efforts to reach out to the demonstrators. During a Wednesday meeting with 11 protesters selected by the government, Erodgan said he would consider a referendum on the park’s future.

But demonstrators express deep skepticism, citing lack of trust in the government. As one demonstrator explained, "A referendum requires an environment of trust, and at this point there are many issues that are not resolved. And the fact that the element of trust has been lost, that it is no longer an option not for me personally."

A senior Turkish judge has warned any referendum would not be legally binding.

Meanwhile, Erdogan again attacked growing international criticism as hypocritical. Both the European Union and Washington have expressed concern about the growing unrest in Turkey.

  • A protester makes the victory sign as he sits outside Gezi Park in front of riot police vehicles at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
  • Protesters watch a film in Gezi Park in Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
  • German pianist Davide Martello is surrounded by anti-government protesters as he performs in Istanbul's Taksim Square, June 13, 2013.
  • Protesters stand in front of a barricade at Gezi park, Istanbul, June 13, 2013.
  • Taksim Square is flooded by tear gas during clashes between protesters and riot police, Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • Police operate during clashes at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester tries to take cover from a water cannon fired by police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester throws a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester throws a gas bomb towards riot police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester throws a petrol bomb towards a crowd control vehicle in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A crowd control vehicle fires a water cannon against protesters in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester walks in front of a burning barricade during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • Protesters carry another protester affected by tear gas during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: jan from: canada
June 14, 2013 10:02 AM
Still "his eyes tightly closed, his fingers in his ears, and going “la, la, la,la! I can’t hear you! ". Salute to Taksim Solidarity.

by: Sunee from: Thailand
June 14, 2013 3:56 AM
May God bless Turkish.

by: Echavet from: Turkey
June 13, 2013 5:43 PM
we will not live our lives under filthy Islamic dictatorship... NEVER!!
we have honor and pride. We are not Iranian cowards!!!

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 13, 2013 3:26 PM
Erdogan, remember Tianamen Square, Beijing in 1989. You will be responsible not only for the dictatorship of the democracy of 50% but also accountable for 100% of deaths and injured at Taskin Square.

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, Illinois
June 13, 2013 1:16 PM
I had a very good opinion about Mr. Erdogan, and I have praised him in various commentaries. But since then I have noticed that he has lost his luster with a stubborness that exceeds that of the proverbial mule. My opinion now is that his successive elections to the job has raised his ego to the stratosphere, and he now behaves like the unelected autocrats of the Gulf States!

Mr. Erdogan: Cut your inflated ego and listen to your people. Your attitude of: I have the 50% of the Turkish voters behind me, and the other 50% can go to hell, is not an attitude of a smart politician - nor it is a democractic way to resolve a social discord. Give the Turks who don't agree with you some respect - if you want to be respected. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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