Turkish PM Erdogan Tries to Downplay Occupy Gezi Protests
The protests that have gripped Turkey since Friday are insignificant and sparked in part by hooligans, according to Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We would not let a few free-looters, punks disturb our people," stated Erdogan in a Sunday evening interview with the Haberturk agency.
As the Turkish PM gave the interview, a large crowd assembled in front of the Haberturk headquarters in the Taksim square in Istanbul, where the most fierce clashes with police took place Friday and Saturday.
The protest started as an 'Occupy Gezi' sit-in motivated to protect the Gezi Park on Taksim, which was planned for demolition and later restoration of Ottoman barracks with the possible addition of a shopping mall at the site.
But tens of thousands from all over Istanbul flooded the area when they learned of rampant police brutality in dispersing the Occupy Gezi encampment.
"This is not about the park... If there are 20,000 people in Taksim square, then we can bring 0.5 M to the Kazlicesme area. We have such opportunity and such power," said the Turkish PM.
At the same time Sunday, police used tear gas and water cannons on protesters in capital Ankara who tried to storm the PM offices.
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