The Turkish police have cracked down on protesters who took to the streets of Istanbul to condemn the policies adopted by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Saturday, hundreds of riot police backed up by water cannon trucks fired tear gas and rubber bullets as they attacked thousands of protesters who had gathered at Istanbul’s flash-point Taksim Square to demand that Erdogan step down. "This is but a start, the battle continues!" the protesters shouted. "It is by resisting that we will prevail," they said. The clashes broke out shortly after the protesters assembled for a mass demonstration -- a week after police evicted thousands of people from the adjacent Gezi Park -- in defiance of the prime minister’s call for an immediate halt to the anti-government demonstrations. As part of the ongoing crackdown, police detained 31 more people earlier in the day on charges of organizing demonstrations and damaging public property. The Turkish authorities have also accused them of being members of a far-left terrorist group. On Tuesday, Erdogan said his government had managed to foil what he called a plot “hatched by traitors and their foreign accomplices” and stated that the government would not show any more tolerance for demonstrations. The unrest began on May 31 after police broke up a sit-in held at Istanbul's Taksim Square to protest against the proposal to demolish Gezi Park. The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul's last green public spaces. Four people, including a police officer, have died in the clashes and more than 5,000 protesters and 600 police officers have been injured.