Protesters, Cops Poised for Showdown in Turkey

Demonstrators return to Taksim Square, despite police show of force

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jun 11, 2013 6:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – Protesters and Turkey's prime minister both refused to back down today in what could become the final battle for Istanbul's Taksim Square, the symbol of nationwide grievances against his government. Tens of thousands of protesters returned to the square in the evening, a show of defiance met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Their return came hours after riot police had forced their way past improvised barricades to clear the square of protesters occupying the area for the past 12 days.

Hundreds more vowed to continue their sit-in at Taksim's adjacent Gezi Park, despite an order from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for them to leave—an order bolstered by the police show of force. A peaceful demonstration against the park's redevelopment that began more than two weeks ago has morphed into the biggest test of Erdogan's authority in his decade of power. The unrest has spread to 78 cities across the country, with protesters championing their objections to what they say is the prime minister's increasingly authoritarian style.

Police officers fan out at Taksim Square in Istanbul.   (Thanassis Stavrakis)
A man carries fire extinguishers past a burning van during clashes at Taksim Square.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A protester records a video with his cellphone in front of a burning barricade at Taksim Square.   (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)
Taksim Square is flooded by tear gas.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
An injured protester is taken to an ambulance.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A protester affected by tear gas waits for medical help.   (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)
Police throw tear gas at protesters in Taksim Square.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Turkish riot police fire tear gas.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Protesters during clashes at Taksim Square.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A girl is evacuated on a stretcher.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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