Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given protesters until tomorrow to evacuate Istanbul’s Gezi Park, adding that the security forces will intervene if they do not leave the site.
“Tomorrow we have a rally in Istanbul. I address the protesters at Taksim. Either they empty the park, or the security forces will know how to do it,” Erdoğan said today, speaking in front of thousands of supporters who had gathered for the first of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s ’s (AKP) mass rallies in Ankara.
The AKP will organize another gathering in Istanbul’s Kazlıçeşme square tomorrow. The rallies have been interpreted as a response to the country-wide protests sparked by the demolition attempt of trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.
During his speech, Erdoğan also repeated his call to protesters to immediately end the demonstrations at Gezi Park.
“I’m addressing the well-intentioned [protesters]. The park belongs to the citizens of Istanbul. It’s not the occupied land of illegal organizations,” Erdoğan said.
“There is no point in staying at Gezi Park when there is a legal process,” he also said, adding that if the appeal was upheld, those who were against the redevelopment project could make their own campaign.
Earlier today the protesters had decided to continue the sit-in with fewer tents, but agreed on removing barricades and political banners.
Erdoğan has also denounced an organized plot against his AKP government, decrying a “big political manipulation,” while he defied the demonstrators at the ballot box.
“We will make public with documents that the real issue was not Gezi Park. This is a coordinated process from the outside and the inside of the country,” Erdoğan said, adding that they had been patient enough in the face of what happened during the protests.
“I have already expressed that I respect the feelings and demands of my sincere brothers. But the events took a very different dimension from the first day. Illegal organizations were there, very different plots entered the scene,” he said.
Erdoğan also said that the rally was the first step in the local elections in March 2014. “We resist with the law, democracy and the ballot box. We will ask account for not recognizing the ballot box in the ballot boxes in eight month,” he said.