Turkey Riots Enter Fourth Day
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets Sunday in Turkey's four biggest cities and clashed with riot police on the third day of anti-government demonstrations. Hundreds began streaming into Istanbul's Taksim Square Monday morning, too, despite more than 1,000 arrests already carried out across the country.
Al Jazeera reported that the atmosphere in Istanbul's Taksim Square was festive on Sunday, with some people chanting for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign and others dancing.
In the nearby Besiktas neighborhood, though, riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to keep crowds away from Erdogan's office in Dolmabahce Palace.
There were similar scenes in Ankara's main Kizilar Square, where police raided a shopping complex and detained several hundred.
Al Jazeera also reported, late on Sunday night, that the demonstrators used a mechanical digger and trucks to break through police lines, right up to a government building.
Muammer Guler, the interior minister, told the Hurriyet newspaper that there had been more than 200 demonstrations in 67 cities since the riots began on Friday. Hundreds of injuries have been reported.
Erdogan on Sunday renewed his calls for an end to the disturbances, saying: "If you love this country, if you love Istanbul, do not fall for these games."
He said the protesters were no more than "a few looters", and vowed that the redevelopment of Taksim Park would go ahead.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) denied orchestrating the unrest, blaming Erdogan's policies. "Today the people on the street across Turkey are not exclusively from the CHP, but from all ideologies and from all parties," Mehmet Akif Hamzacebi, a senior party member, said.
About 7,000 people took part in protests in Ankara Sunday, with demonstrators throwing fire bombs and police firing tear gas. Erdogan delivered two speeches on Sunday and appeared in a television interview.
"They call me a dictator," he said. "If they liken a humble servant to a dictator, then I am at a loss for words."