Turkey unrest: Mass rally for Erdogan amid new clashes

Source: BBC

Turkey’s prime minister has rallied tens of thousands of supporters in Istanbul, telling them it was his duty to clear a city square that has been the focus of anti-government unrest.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied he was a dictator, criticised foreign media and vowed to “identify one by one those who have terrorised the streets”.

The BBC’s Chris Morris in Istanbul says this was the perfect day, setting and weather for Mr Erdogan to set out his message of “I am the man in charge”.

Mr Erdogan defended Saturday’s police action to clear Istanbul’s Taksim Square and nearby Gezi Park, saying: “I said we were at an end. That it was unbearable. Yesterday the operation was carried out and it was cleaned up. It was my duty as prime minister.”

He criticised the international press and social media for the coverage of the unrest, urging them to be ethical and honest.

“If the international media want a picture of Turkey, the picture is here,” he said.

Mr Erdogan denied being an authoritarian leader and said the protests had been manipulated by “terrorists”.

He said: “They say ‘you are too tough’, they say ‘dictator’. What kind of a dictator is this who met the Gezi Park occupiers and honest environmentalists. Is there such dictator?

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Protest timeline

28 May: Protests begin in Gezi Park over plans to redevelop one of Istanbul’s few green spaces

30-31 May: Police raids on protest camp culminate in mass unrest

3 June: Protesters establish camps with makeshift facilities from libraries to food centres

4-10 June: Protests widen into show of anti-government dissent in towns and cities across Turkey; clashes between police and demonstrators

11/12 June: Night of clashes see riot police disperse anti-government demonstrators in Taksim Square, which adjoins Gezi Park; camps in the park remain

13 June: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issues a “final warning” to protesters to leave Gezi Park

14 June: Government agrees to suspend Gezi Park redevelopment plans until a court rules on the issue, PM holds talks with members of a key protest group

15 June: Police move in, clearing protesters from Gezi Park

“The attitude across Turkey with the pretext of Taksim’s Gezi Park is not sincere. It is nothing more than the minority’s attempt to dominate the majority… We could not have allowed this and we will not allow it,” he said.

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