Turkish Police Clear Istanbul Park After PM’s Warning

Via France 24:

Turkish police stormed Istanbul’s Gezi Park on Saturday with tear gas and water cannons after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued an ultimatum to protesters to leave the site, which has been the epicentre of nationwide protests.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul overnight on Sunday, erecting barricades and starting bonfires, after riot police firing teargas and water cannon stormed a park at the center of two weeks of anti-government unrest.

Lines of police backed by armoured vehicles sealed off Taksim Square in the center of the city as officers raided the adjoining Gezi Park late on Saturday, where protesters had been camped in a ramshackle settlement of tents.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had warned hours earlier that security forces would clear the square, the centre of more than two weeks of fierce anti-government protests that spread to cities across the country, unless the demonstrators withdrew before a ruling party rally in Istanbul on Sunday.

“We have our Istanbul rally tomorrow. I say it clearly: Taksim Square must be evacuated, otherwise this country’s security forces know how to evacuate it”, he told tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters at a rally in Ankara.

“One million people to Taksim” – a call for more anti-government demonstrations later on Sunday – was a top-trending hashtag on Twitter.

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