Turkish Protesters Remain Defiant Following Erdogan Speech

Created: 2013-06-07 13:43 EST

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Protesters remained defiant on Friday (June 7) after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to distance themselves from "lawless protests" and said accusations of the excessive use of police force during days of unrest were being investigated.

 
Demonstrators in Taksim Square said they would never give up the park and would defend their rights.
 
[Enis Cevahiroglu, Protester]:
"Our reaction has nothing to do with the attitude of the Prime Minister. We have some rights and we owned some freedoms in Turkey. Now they are taking them from us. We are here to stand against this and we will be here for as long as they try and take our freedom away from us. We will never leave here and no threat or authoritarian act can change our minds."
 
Anti-government protesters gathered in their thousands in central Istanbul and Ankara awaiting a speech that could appease or aggravate the crowds after a week of violent unrest.
 
[Erdinc Calin, Protester]:
"We will try to continue as long as we can. I have been here for four days. Some of our friends have been here for 10 days. There are some friends who have been here from the beginning. So it doesn't matter what he says we will keep on staying here."
 
Some of the demonstrators in Istanbul's Taksim Square chanted "Tayyip resign", while others sang and danced. In Ankara's Kugulu Park, thousands chanted anti-government slogans, sang the national anthem and swigged on beer.
 
What began as a campaign against planned construction on a leafy park in a corner of Taksim Square has grown into an unprecedented display of public anger over the perceived authoritarianism of Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party.
 
Police backed by armoured vehicles and helicopters have clashed with groups of protesters night after night, leaving three dead and some 4,000 injured, while thousands of Erdogan's opponents have amassed peacefully in Taksim, surrounded by barricades of torn-up paving stones and street signs.