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Defying gov't, Turkish protesters to stay in park

After talks with Erdogan, protesters defiantly promise to 'continue struggle' despite police crackdown, governmental pleas to evacuate park

Protesters have agreed to press on with their 2-week-long sit-in at an Istanbul park, despite government appeals and warnings for the standoff with authorities to end, an activist said Saturday.

 

Overnight, police firing water cannons and tear gas dispersed protesters who erected street barricades near Turkey's parliament in the capital, Ankara. It was the latest face-off between authorities and demonstrators over the park redevelopment plan and the police handling of the earliest days of the protests.

 

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Tayfun Kahraman, one of the activists, promised to continue the struggle. He made the comment to The Associated Press after a series of discussions among the protesters in Gezi Park to decide on their next move.

 


(צילום: רויטרס)

Taksim clashes (Photo: Reuters)

 

He was one of two activists in Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements, who had met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

 

The protesters are angry about government plans to pull down trees and redevelop the park area. An initial sit-in drew a forceful police response on May 31, setting off a wave of protests – Turkey's biggest in decades.

 

Saturday's announcement is likely to return the spotlight on Erdogan's government, which in recent days offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the redevelopment plan and possibly hold a referendum on it. But on Thursday, he issued a "final" warning that the protesters must leave the park.

 

Earlier Saturday, President Abdullah Gul wrote on Twitter that "everyone should now return home," insisting "the channels for discussion and dialogue" have opened.

 

It was an apparent reference to talks on Friday between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a small group of delegates from the protest.

 

In those talks, the prime minister promised to let the courts and a possible referendum decide the fate of a Gezi Park redevelopment project that has sparked Turkey's biggest protests in decades.

 

Erdogan's supporters were planning weekend pro-government demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul.

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 06.15.13, 13:54
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