Turkish police attack anti-govt. rally in Istanbul

Sun Jun 30, 2013 09:47:47

Police in the western Turkish city of Istanbul have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in Taksim Square.

Saturday’s mass rally was observing a memorial for four people killed during the recent anti-government protests.

Police blocked off the center of the square, the symbolic heart of the nationwide protest movement, for some two hours as the demonstrators chanted "Government, resign!"

The police move came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that foreign-led conspirators he alleges are behind the anti-government movement in his country also are fomenting the recent unrest in Brazil.

The protests in Turkey erupted three weeks ago after riot police brutally cracked down on peaceful environmental activists who opposed plans to develop Gezi Park, which lies next to Taksim. The demonstrations soon turned into expressions of discontent with what critics say is Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian and meddlesome ways.

On Saturday, some demonstrators tried to give carnations to the security forces watching over the square, shouting: ``Police, don't betray your people.'' But after their warnings to disperse were ignored, police pushed back protesters with water cannon, even chasing stragglers down side streets and apparently blocking entrances to the square.

The Turkish premier has faced fierce international criticism for his government's crackdown on the protests, but he has defended his administration's actions as well as the tough police tactics. He also has blamed the protests on unspecified foreign forces, bankers and foreign and Turkish media outlets he claims want to harm Turkish interests.

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