Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edrogan warned protesters on Sunday that “even patience has an end” and called again for the protests to stop.
Protesters have taken to the streets of several major cities to demand for Edrogan’s resignation. The prime minister compared the unrest with an army attempt to curb his power, which happened six years ago.
Sunday marked day 10 of the protests as riot police resorted back to tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters from Ankara, just a few miles from where Erdogan spoke.
While the protests raged, Erdogan held six rallies during which supporters waved Turkish flags and shouted Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) as the prime minister accused protesters of attacking women and desecrating mosques by taking beer bottles into them.
Tens of thousands of activists flooded the streets of Istanbul’s central Taksim Square (Gezi), where the protests emanated from. They began when police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a peaceful demonstration over plans to tear down the park and turn it into an industrial zone.
But police have since withdrawn from the area, leaving protesters camped out in tents in control. Roads approaching the square have been blocked with masonry, paving stones, and steel rods.
In his speech on Sunday, Turkey’s prime minister also urged his supporters not to resort to violence, saying:
“We won’t do what a handful of looters have done. They burn and destroy … They destroy the shops of civilians. They destroy the cars of civilians. They are low enough to insult the prime minister of this country.”
Instead of violence, Erdogan urged his supporters to fight against protesters democratically, explaining, “I want you to give them the first lesson through democratic means in the ballot box.”
While the protests in Turkey started as an environmental protest on May 31, they have grown into a general discontent toward Erdogan’s government. Several protesters have accused the prime minister of becoming more and more authoritarian in the past decade, saying he has tried to impose his conservative, religious views on the country, which is currently governed by secular laws.
But Ergogan has rejected the accusations, branding the protests as illegal efforts to tarnish his reputation.
[Image via Senat RP/Polish Senate]