Protesters woke in Taksim Square, Central Istanbul the morning after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan called for an end to the violence. He told a crowd of 10,000 supporters he would not back down in the face of violence.
The square near the disputed Gezi Park remains a scene of occupation, with protesters setting themselves up for a long stay. They play volleyball, have set up a library, museum and medical facilities. They say they will not be moved.
One protester said he was disappointed with the prime minister’s stance: “He made two announcements. One at the airport, one at his home. They were both aggressive. I personally was hoping that he would back down a little bit. At least to ease the tension – but he didn’t.”
Another said, “I think it is dividing the Turkish population more, because Tayip’s stance was really brutal and without logical, political sense.”
Returning from his trip to North Africa, Erdogan urged his supporters not to be drawn into violence and called the protests at Taksim Square “lawless” and “dirty games”. He acknowledged accusations of heavy-handedness by police in their dealing with the protests, but stopped short of a full apology. He insisted the controversial plans to redevelop Gezi Park would still go ahead.
All will be hoping for a swift resolution; the violence has killed three and left around 4,000 injured.
Yet both sides remain defiant. Erdogan must find a resolution without losing face, and the protesters will not want to back down without achieving something for their efforts.
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