Erdogan Issues 24-H Deadline to Crush Protests in Turkey

World | June 13, 2013, Thursday // 12:09|  views

Turkey has seen tireless civil unrest sparked by a police crackdown on a local protest over an Istanbul park. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a 24-hours deadline to the Minister of the Interior to bring to an end the protests at the emblematic Taksim square in Istanbul.

On Wednesday, the Turkish PM met in Istanbul for the first time with representatives of protesters against his government.

The meeting, which was closed to the media, was attended by many known public figures.

Its participants also included the Interior Minister Muammet Guler, the Minister of Culture Omer Celik, the Minister of Environment and Civil Construction Erdogan Bayraktar, a delegation of the Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen (TESK), and of Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party.

During his meeting with TESK, Erdogan has watched TV footage from protests in Ankara and Izmir.

"We did not use fists against the fists, but from now on, our law enforcement will act in a different manner. We don't need anyone from abroad to teach us what to do. I ask traders and craftsmen to be vigilant. The lobby of the money-lenders is acting as well. I told the Interior Minister that these protests must end in the next 24 hours," Erdogan, quoted by Turkish media, has said.

He has also told senior members of his party that as early as 3 months ago, he had received tipoffs from the intelligence services that such provocations, though not exactly in this form, were going to happen.

Posts on the Occupy Gezi page on Facebook, however, claim that some of the people at the meeting with the Turkish PM and ministers had nothing to do with the Taksim protests.

It was reported meanwhile that riot police in the capital Ankara has once again used overnight teargas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators and their barricades on one of the city's main thoroughfares.

Police have used excessive force for the 5th day in a row, local media writes, despite the rally being peaceful in anticipation of the outcome of Erdogan's meeting in Istanbul.

Turkey has seen tireless civil unrest sparked by a police crackdown on a local protest over construction plans for Gezi park on Taksim square.

Four people, including a police officer, are reported to have died since the protests began, with thousands more hurt and hundreds arrested. There are fears that the dead toll might be much higher than the official reports.

The government says more than 500 police officers are among the injured. There are reports that 6 policemen have committed suicide.

Three police officers in Izmir have been fired over using excessive force against a group of young people who had just been standing on the street, talking to each other.

Turkish NTV reports that the policemen have been fired and are investigated after media showed footage of the three forcefully searching the youth and pulling the hair of a girl from the group.

The protests began on May 28 over plans to redevelop Gezi Park.

It is the only remaining park in Taksim district, and it was supposed to make way for the rebuilding of an Ottoman era military barracks to house a large shopping center.

The rallies spread quickly, engulfing a number of major cities, and eventually turned into demonstrations against the authoritarian and Islamic-leaning policy of the Turkish government and of Erdogan.

It was reported meanwhile that Abdullah Gul, the President of Turkey, has signed the controversial law imposing serious restrictions on alcohol sales in the country.

The law is seen as one of the sparks of the protests. In May, the Turkish Parliament approved the ban on selling alcohol, between 10 pm and 6 am.

Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu has scorned leading international media for what he saw as biased reports from the protests aiming at tarnishing his country's image.

Davutoglu points out that in the last decade mass protest rallies, similar to those on Taksim, have been staged across Europe and the US, but global media reported on them calmly seeing them as normal part of the democratic process.

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