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Jun-02-2013 00:47printcomments

TURKEY: Protesters Call for Resignation of Prime Minister Erdogan

More than 100,000 Turkish protesters have gathered at Istanbul’s Taksim Square, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan.

Riot police use tear gas to disperse the crowd during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square in central Istanbul on June 1, 2013.
Riot police use tear gas to disperse the crowd during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square in central Istanbul on June 1, 2013.

(ISTANBUL) - The protesters occupied the iconic Taksim Square on Saturday as part of their demonstration against the government’s decision to demolish Gezi Park and replace it with an Ottoman-era military barracks to be used as a shopping mall.

Police forces clashed with protesters, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.

Riot police also blocked thousands of protesters from moving towards Taksim Square.

The protesters condemned the Turkish government as a “fascist government” and called Erdogan a new “Sultan.”

The protesters also carried banners reading “Nation will hold ruling AKP (the Justice and Development Party) accountable,” calling on the government to resign.

Erdogan has admitted “extreme” police action against protesters in Istanbul.

Footages show thick smoke rising over Taksim Square, the cause of which is not known yet.

Protesters also condemned Erdogan’s stance on the ongoing crisis in the neighboring Syria.

As the unrest escalated, President Abdullah Gul called for “common sense” to prevail noting that anti-government protests have reached a “worrisome level.”

    "We all need to be mature in order for the protests ... which have reached a worrisome level, to calm down," Gul said in a statement.

Reports say electricity and Internet services were shut down in parts of the city as anti-government demonstrations continued.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan called on protesters to “stop their demonstrations immediately,” saying the government would not back away from the controversial park project .

Thousands of people also took to the streets in other cities, including the capital Ankara, Izmir, Mugla and Antalya in support of the protesters in Istanbul.

The unrest turned into anti-government protests after police moved into Taksim Square on Friday in order to break up a sit-in protest against the razing of the park, arresting dozens of protesters.

The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and protests as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city's last green public space.

SAB/SS/SL

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