Saying on Thursday that "our patience is at an end," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to empty Istanbul's Gezi Park of its encamped demonstrators. Thousands of citizens took over the park nearly two weeks ago, in protest of a planned business development that would level one of the few remaining green spaces in all of Istanbul. The protests exploded into nationwide demonstrations against Erdogan himself and his authoritarian rule. On Thursday, however, he told citizens "to attend your children, pull them back" from the park and "this issue will be over in 24 hours."
As a small measure of conciliation, the Prime Minister has proposed holding a public referendum on the park's future, but has remained steadfast in his opposition to the demonstrations, which he has blamed on "extremists" and "looters." For more than a week, images of fiery street battles between police and citizens have been broadcast around the world, while Turkish media has been mostly silenced.
Erdogan was not explicit about what happens next if his "final warning" is ignored, but presumably it means another assault on the park by riot police, who may decide to resort to more violent tactics then they've already used. According to reports from Istanbul, however, crowds in the park and in neighboring Taksim Square are only growing, as protestors prepare for a showdown.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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