Turkey protests: Uneasy calm in Istanbul's Taksim Square

There is an uneasy calm in central Istanbul after an night of clashes which saw Turkish riot police disperse anti-government demonstrators.

The protesters had gathered on Taksim Square after a day of sporadic clashes.

Many have regrouped in nearby Gezi Park, whose proposed redevelopment sparked the protests which have widened into nationwide anti-government unrest.

The prime minister has said there will be no tolerance of people he accuses of seeking to harm Turkey.

The demonstrators accuse Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of becoming increasingly authoritarian and trying to impose conservative Islamic values on a secular state.

Mr Erdogan is due to meet a group of people – including an actress, a singer and a writer – who he hopes can mediate with the protesters.

It had been suggested he would hold talks with protest organisers, but they told the BBC that they had not been approached by the prime minister – and would refuse to meet him even if they were.

They added that they did not recognise any of the group that Mr Erdogan was due to meet as representatives of the protesters in the park.

Thousands converged on the square as night fell on Tuesday and were repelled by water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Many peaceful demonstrators were also caught in the clashes, and volunteers set up makeshift clinics to treat anyone injured.
Many of the dispersed demonstrators sought shelter in nearby areas, including Gezi Park. Police said they did not plan to enter the park.

Throughout Tuesday, riot police repeatedly clashed with protesters throwing bottles, stones and firebombs.

Security forces cleared the square, only for the demonstrators to return.

Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu had earlier struck a conciliatory note, but he went on television on Tuesday night to declare:

“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.”

‘It’s over’

Mr Erdogan has defended the police action, saying that an environmental movement has been hijacked.

In a televised speech, he said: “To those who… are at Taksim and elsewhere taking part in the demonstrations with sincere feelings: I call on you to leave those places and to end these incidents and I send you my love.

“But for those who want to continue with the incidents I say: ‘It’s over.’

“As of now we have no tolerance for them.”

Jeremy Bowen saw the protesters clash with police

The protests began on 31 May.

The Turkish Human Rights Foundation says four people have been killed, including one policeman.

Some 5,000 protesters have been treated for injuries or the effects of tear gas, while officials say 600 police officers have also been injured.

Protests have also occurred in the capital, Ankara, with smaller demonstrations in many other cities.

Police in Ankara have used water cannon and tear gas to break up demonstrations almost every night.

The United States, a key ally of Turkey, has expressed concern about events and urged dialogue between government and protesters.

“We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and a free independent media,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

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