Thousands of people in Turkey have held demonstrations for and against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Addressing a mass rally in the eastern city of Erzurum on Sunday, Erdogan praised AK Party supporters and the general public for opposing what he called a foreign plot to destabilize Turkey. "The people saw this game from the start and frustrated it. They (the protesters) thought the people would say nothing. They said we will burn and destroy and do what we want but the people will do nothing," he said. Erdogan also expressed his support for riot police that fired tear gas and used water cannons at thousands of protesters who had gathered on Saturday at Istanbul’s flash-point Taksim Square to demand that Erdogan step down. Erdogan called on anti-government protesters to end their demonstrations, and accused them of having “illegal, unethical behavior”. "Those who came out using the excuse of Gezi at Taksim Square will get their answer at the ballot box," he declared. Sunday's rally in the AK Party stronghold in which roughly 15,000 people participated was the fifth that Erdogan has called since anti-government protests began in Istanbul last month. Meanwhile, several thousands of Alawite and human rights activists staged a demonstration near the Taksim Square on Sunday. The protesters condemned what they called Erdogan’s authoritarian rule and demanded that he step down. "We want the government to resign. We don't have another demand, we just want (to) live in freedom," said one protester. On Tuesday, Erdogan said his government had successfully managed to foil 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 the 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. Six injured protesters are in critical condition and 11 people have lost their eyesight during the police crackdown.