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Turkey's Erdogan gives final warning to park protesters

Photo: AFP

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday issued a final warning to protesters occupying Gezi Park, the epicentre of protests that have rocked the country and been the most important challenge to his government yet.

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned protesters occupying Gezi Park in central Istanbul that his patience was running out and that they had one final chance to leave the occupied site.

“Our patience is at an end,” Erdogan said in a speech to his conservative AK Party during a meeting in the capital of Ankara on Thursday. “I am making my warning for the last time.”

“I say to the mothers and fathers please, take your children in hand and bring them out... We cannot wait any more because Gezi Park does not belong to occupying forces but to the people,” he added.

The park was the spot of a peaceful demonstration in late May that was met with a brutal police crackdown. While the original protest was aimed at saving trees in the park from development plans, the police violence sparked a nationwide outpouring of anger against Erdogan, and what opponents see as his increasingly autocratic style.

Erdogan’s opponents, often secular youths from the cities, occupied Gezi Park and nearby Taksim Square.

On Tuesday, police regained Taksim Square, once again unleashing violent clashes between riot police and tens of thousands of angry demonstrators.

Two weeks of street battles pitting baton- and tear-gas-wielding police against rock-throwing youths have left four people dead and 5,000 others injured.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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