Turkey: Police disperse thousands of demonstrators in Istanbul square


Protestors gather in Taksim Square on June 4, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.


Uriel Sinai

Police used water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters who gathered in Istanbul's Taksim Square on Saturday.

According to Reuters, some 10,000 demonstrators were in the square, some to attend a memorial ceremony for four people, three protesters and a police officer, killed during this month's anti-government unrest.

Hundreds of riot police responded as the crowd chanted "this is just the start, the struggle will continue." According to the Associated Press, the police exercised more restraint than in previous days and did not use tear gas.

Agence-France Presse citing CNN-Turk reported Turkish authorities arrested another 23 people on Saturday for allegedly participating in the protests, saying they are part of a leftist "terrorist" group.

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The most recent clashes come after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared foreigners were responsible for the the anti-government protests in Turkey and Brazil.

Meanwhile in the city of Samsun, on the Black Sea, Erdogan told thousands of supporters that the violent anti-government protests had "played into the hands of Turkey's enemies."

About 15,000 Erdogan supports cheered and waved Turkish flags. It marks the fourth pro-government rally since the protests erupted three weeks ago after a violent police crackdown on environmentalists who opposed development in Gezi Park, next to Taksim Square.

The demonstrators said the brutal reaction epitomizes Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian style.