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Yesterday, Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister had police attack the protesters in Istanbul with teargas, water cannons and rubber bullet today it may be much worse. Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave an ominous warning  declaring that the demonstrations against his rule would be over within 24 hours.

“We have not responded to punches with punches. From now on security forces will respond differently,” Erdoğan said after meeting a team said to be representing the protesters for the first time. “This issue will be over in 24 hours.”

The Taksim Solidarity group, which says it represents protesters, called in an e-mailed statement for people to return to the square from 7 p.m. It reiterated demands including the preservation of the park, the dismissal of governors and police chiefs in cities where demonstrators have been attacked, and the release of those detained during the rallies.

“No meeting, while the police violence disregarding right to life so relentlessly continues in and around the Gezi Park, will produce results,” it said. “We are waiting for you in Gezi Park. We are here and we are not leaving.”

Early on this evening, protesters began gathering again in Takism Square, next to the park.Police stood back along the edges of the square, which had been clear during the day after a series of violent clashes between police and protesters on Tuesday and overnight.

The sense of a looming denouement at Gezi Park off Taksim Square in central Istanbul was reinforced when a deputy leader of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) said the park had to be cleared of demonstrators as soon as possible.
Thousands of protesters again gathered at the park on Wednesday evening, with phalanxes of riot police marshalling nearby.

There is a sense of an buildup to a final showdown which was reinforced by Istanbul’s governor, Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, who ordered the protesters to clear the park for their own “safety”.

“Those who attacked [the police] are amongst the young people in Gezi Park … This is why they need to vacate the premises as soon as possible. Families should take their children out of there,” he warned.
Protest leaders in the park, however, pledged to stay put as around 1,000 lawyers also took to the streets in an unusual escalation of the demonstrations to complain about the detention of 45 of their colleagues on Tuesday and to voice solidarity with the “resistance”.

A tepid response to the harsh police action against the protesters came from Washington, the U.S. expressed concern about the violence and called on the Turkish government to uphold “fundamental freedoms” of expression and assembly. “We are concerned by any attempts to punish individuals for exercising their right to free speech, as well as attempts by any party to provoke violence,” Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswomen for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, said in a statement.

The EU has reacted in a more forceful manner.  

The European Union contradicted the prime minister and voiced support for the protesters, saying they had been largely peaceful and subject to indiscriminate violence from riot police. It demanded an investigation of the extreme reaction, and called on Erdogan to cancel big rallies of his Justice and Development party (AKP) scheduled for the coming weekend.
There is a real polarisation of opinion. Major AKP rallies in Istanbul and Ankara this weekend would risk adding to the tension when we need to see a de-escalation,” said Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, echoed the message from Brussels.

“We expect Prime Minister Erdoğan to de-escalate the situation and to seek a constructive exchange and peaceful dialogue.” 

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, echoed the message from Brussels.
“We expect Prime Minister Erdoğan to de-escalate the situation and to seek a constructive exchange and peaceful dialogue.”

Based on the Prime Minister’s orders the EU will have their response by this time tomorrow. It does not seem as if Erdoğan will be anything short of more repression.

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