It’s been somewhat less chaotic at the scene in and around Taksim Square’s Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey today, as police forces there retreated some yesterday. Protesters are said to be cleaning up around the area, many of them chanting and singing. Meanwhile, some other areas still continue to see some police presence.
Tens of thousands gathered on Sunday after a calmer night in Taksim Square, which saw two days of clashes between protesters and riot police backed by armored vehicles and helicopters.
The atmosphere was more festive with some chanting for Erdogan to resign and others singing and dancing. There was little obvious police presence.
In Ankara’s downtown Kizilay district, however, police used tear gas after a few thousand people chanted anti-government slogans and blocked traffic.
On Sunday rain appeared to keep the crowds away from Taksim Square initially, but this did not dampen the spirit of the protesters whose numbers later swelled.
“We will stay until the end,” said Akin, who works in motor trade and has been in Taksim for the past four days. “We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us.”
Protesters have been demonstrating all week against the demolition of an area of Gezi Park, which was initially intended to make way for a shopping mall. The protests evolved into a broader sentiment against Erdoğan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now says a mosque and opera house may be built on the property instead, while protesters remain defiant.
From Hurriyet Daily News:
“You cannot make an AVM [shopping mall] familiar to the international ones in this area. There is no conclusive AVM project here. Maybe we will make a city museum there or an architectural work that will put different activities in place. Is there any certain document? No,” said Erdoğan on June 2 in Istanbul as he attended the Rumeli Turks Association’s general assembly.
Erdoğan also said the much debated Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), also on Taksim Square, should be demolished, proposing to build an opera house and a mosque there instead.
“A mosque will be built in Taksim,” said Erdoğan adding that he did not have to receive permission from the main opposition leader or a “few marauders” for the projects. He said that the authority had already been given by people who voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Follow continuing live updates below.
On Twitter at the #GeziPark hashtag:
- Taksim filled with protesters on sixth day without police presence
- Erdogan accuses Turkish opposition of provoking anti-government protests
- Turkey protesters hold Istanbul square after days of violent clashes
- Turkish PM Erdoğan retires mall project, vows mosque in Taksim
- Anonymous launches attacks against Turkish government for Gezi Park protests
UPDATE 9:20pm EST: Reports that protesters have hijacked a bulldozer to break through police lines.
— AJELive (@AJELive) June 2, 2013
The incident appears to have been captured from livestream and posted in this video. (That segment starts at about the :50 mark).