Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given a ‘last warning’ to thousands of anti-government protesters, saying his government will rid Istanbul’s Taksim Square of ‘troublemakers’ within the next 24 hours.
“I’m making my last warning: mothers, fathers please withdraw your kids from there,” Erdogan said in a live television broadcast on Thursday.
“Authorities would clear the site from troublemakers within 24 hours,” the prime minister stated.
He added, “We cannot wait any longer because Gezi Park does not belong to occupying forces. It belongs to everybody.”
The prime minister urged protesters to withdraw so that police could clear the site of “illegal organizations.”
“Don’t sadden us anymore, let us clean Gezi Park and return it to its rightful owners… the people of Istanbul,” Erdogan stated.
The death toll from clashes between anti-government protesters and police in Turkey has reportedly reached five.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government may hold a referendum on Gezi Park development project in an attempt to put an end the ongoing protests in the country.
The decision was adopted after Erdogan met with a number of protest representatives in capital Ankara on Wednesday.
Activist group Taksim Solidarity, which most represents the protesters, said in a statement that its members had not been invited to the meeting with Erdogan.
“As police violence continues mercilessly … these meetings will in no way lead to a solution,” the group added.
The anti-government unrest began after police broke up a sit-in staged in Taksim Square on May 31 to protest against the demolition of Gezi Park.
The protesters say the park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city’s last green public space.
Amnesty International has censured the Turkish police for the tactics they have used to control the protests.
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