Istanbul, the police enter Taksim Square. Demonstrations also dispersed in Ankara
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of police in riot gear and with dozens of armored trucks this morning entered Taksim Square, for weeks now home to a decisive protest against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse activists camped out in the square.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister agreed to meet with the leaders of the protest tomorrow. But he also warned that "illegal demonstrations will no longer be allowed in Turkey." Erdogan put his words into action last night and the police also dispersed demonstrations in the center of Ankara.
This morning, hundreds of police with helmets and shields surrounded Taksim square, while the armored vehicles exceeded the barricades erected by the protesters.
The protests began 12 days ago in Taksim Square, against a building project which involved the felling of trees in Gezi Park, one of the few green lungs of Istanbul. The demonstrations grew in number and began criticizing Erdogan's government, accusing it of authoritarianism and wanting to Islamize the secular state.
The law enforcement response has been heavy handed. According to the union of doctors, the protest led to the death of two protesters and a police officer, with more than 4,800 injured. Erdogan said that at least 600 policemen were injured.
The 59 year old leader is considered the most influential personality in the country after Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. His party, the AKP has won elections three times in succession, on the back of the country's great economic development.
Sure of his popularity, Erdogan has asked his supporters to defy the protesters to give the AKP victory in the upcoming elections to be held in 2014.