Turkish police fight protesters, clear square
Updated: 2013-06-12 15:20
Riot police blocks a main road during clashes in Ankara late June 11, 2013. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan demanded an immediate end to 10 days of demonstrations.[Agencies]
The crowd scattered into narrow streets around, leaving a hard core of protesters to return, lighting bonfires and stoning water cannon. Police then launched tear gas attacks again, the cycle repeating itself until numbers dwindled.
"We will continue our measures in an unremitting manner, whether day or night, until marginal elements are cleared and the square is open to the people," Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu declared on television on Tuesday night.
Police were less in evidence by the morning and it was not clear if protesters would return in the course of the day, as they have previously.
A fierce crackdown on initial protests against planned redevelopment of Gezi Park, a leafy corner of Taksim, triggered the wider protests, drawing in a broad alliance of secularists, nationalists, professional workers, unionists and students - some of whom would never before have considered sharing a political platform.
Erdogan argues that the broader mass of people are at best the unwitting tools of political extremists and terrorists and points to his 50 percent vote in the last of three successive electoral victories for his political authority.
His critics, some of whom say conservative religious elements have won out over centrist reformers in his AK Party, accuse him an increasingly authoritarian conduct and of inflaming the crisis with unyielding talk.
Some charge that his politics are too often shaped by a religious agenda, with the introduction of alcohol restrictions and comments suggesting he favours a traditionalist role for women.
For his part, Erdogan has complained of the contempt he feels secularist leaders have shown in the past for religious sentiments, excluding women with head scarves from universities. He has accused protesters of attacking women in headscarves and of desecrating mosques by bringing in beer.
"There's no room for dialogue when there's ongoing violence," said Mucella Yapici of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, a core group behind the Gezi Park campaign.