Turkey PM to meet with protesters
Turkey’s prime minister will meet with a group of protesters occupying Istanbul’s central Taksim Square this week, the deputy prime minister said Monday, as the government sought a way out of the impasse that has led to hundreds of protests in dozens of cities.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said, however, the government no longer would tolerate “illegal acts,” and implied that the occupation of Taksim and its accompanying Gezi Park would be over by the weekend.
“Illegal acts in Turkey from now won’t be allowed, and whatever needs to be done according to the law will be done,” he said after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “All necessary actions against illegal acts will have been completed, and we will see this all together, by the weekend.”
The protests appeared on the wane, with the smallest number of demonstrators in the past 11 days gathering in Taksim on Monday night. The protesters occupying Gezi Park remain, however.
Smaller protests occurred in Ankara too, with about 5,000 people demonstrating. Police there have used water cannon and tear gas to break up demonstrations almost every night.
Three people have died, and more than 5,000 have been treated for injuries or the effects of gas during the protests. The government says 600 police officers also have been injured.
Erdogan will meet Gezi Park protesters Wednesday, after a request by some of the protesters, Arinc said, but not at the square. With no clear leadership organizing the Gezi occupation, it was unclear who the prime minister would be meeting.
The unrest was sparked by a violent police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in by protesters objecting to a project replacing the park with a replica Ottoman-era barracks.