News / Europe

Turkish Protesters Vow to Continue Park Sit-In

A cat passes by sleeping protesters at the Gezi Park of the Taksim Square in Istanbul early Saturday, June 15, 2013.
A cat passes by sleeping protesters at the Gezi Park of the Taksim Square in Istanbul early Saturday, June 15, 2013.
VOA News
Turkish protesters vow to continue their occupation of an Istanbul park, saying the government has ignored their demands.

Taksim Solidarity - representing the protesters - said Saturday they will not leave the park, despite demands by the government to get out, and a promise by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to let a court decide the fate of controversial plans to commercially develop the park.

Earlier Saturday, Turkish police detained dozens of protesters in the Turkish capital, Ankara, hours after the conciliatory move by Erdogan.

On Friday, the prime minister told protesters he would put redevelopment plans for the park on hold until a court rules on them, and hold a referendum if the court ruled in the government's favor.

Despite his promise, hundreds of protesters flocked to the streets in Ankara to demonstrate against the ruling AK Party.  Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protest.

In a televised speech Friday, Erdogan said the protesters have remained in the park long enough and have delivered their message.  He said that message has been "received and evaluated."

Last month, a peaceful sit-in to save Istanbul's Gezi Park from commercial development erupted into nationwide anti-government protests that have continued for more than two weeks.

Demonstrators and police have clashed during the protests, leaving four people dead, about 5,000 injured and thousands of others arrested.

Protesters gathered in Gezi Park vowed to stay despite Erdogan's "final warning" to the marchers late Thursday.  The prime minister gave those, he calls, "troublemakers" 24 hours to clear out of Istanbul's Taksim Square.

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