Turkish police have used water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters who gathered in Istanbul’s central square in defiance of a government order.
Protesters Saturday threw carnations at the police and said they came out to pay respect to four people killed in the almost month-long protests. Some of them pledged not to give up what they called resistance against the government’s suppression of freedoms.
Taksim Square has been the scene of anti-government protests for most of June and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to use the army to disperse the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, Mr. Erdogan visited the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun, where he told thousands of supporters that the almost month-long protest has been instigated by foreigners.
The protests started as a peaceful demonstration in late May against a government plan to turn a historic park in Istanbul into a commercial development. It turned into a country-wide demonstration after authorities used excessive force against protesters.
Three civilians and one policeman have been killed in the street clashes so far and hundreds of people have been injured, some of them gravely. A number of people have been arrested.
The European Union has warned Turkey not to use force against protesters. In Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, on the sidelines of the “Friends of Syria” meeting to discuss the tensions between their countries arising from Berlin’s criticism of Ankara’s crackdown on protesters.