Hundreds of Turkish riot police forces have attacked anti - government protesters in the iconic Taksim Square in Istanbul, the heart of the now - 12 - day nationwide protests.
Police retook control of the square on Tuesday, and fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the anti-government protesters, who were chanting slogans against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The police forces moved the barricades set up by protesters on the streets leading to their tents in the square and the nearby Gezi Park. The protesters responded by throwing rocks and fireworks. The police crackdown came only hours after the government said Erdogan would meet the protest leaders on Wednesday. The anti-government protests in Turkey were triggered by the police violence against a sit-in staged in the square to protest against the demolition of Gezi Park on May 31. The protesters say the park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is Istanbul's last green public space. The protests soon spread to dozens of cities across Turkey and solidified into calls for Erdogan’s resignation. On June 8, the leader of Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli, called for early elections in order to overcome the current turmoil. Erdogan has faced international condemnation for his handling of the crisis and the Turkish police have been criticized strongly for using excessive force against protests.