After a night spent under clouds of police tear gas, protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park on Wednesday cleaned up the debris, fortified their encampment, dressed their wounds and said they would stay on. Though Turkey’s government has vowed to end protests it says were co-pted by extremists, the park is home to a colorful group of hundreds of young people at the heart of a bid to save the site from a controversial redevelopment scheme that has led to antigovernment demonstrations nationwide.
An uneasy calm reigned over the square, littered with burnt out vans and rubble. Erdogan said the protests would end within 24 hours. “I have given the orders to the Interior Minister,” he told members of a shopkeepers’ union. Riot police moved in to Taksim on Tuesday wielding tear gas and water cannons but did not enter the crowded park. Taksim Solidarity, a loose coalition of groups represented in the park, said overnight tear-gassing had scuppered any possible dialogue with the government. Erdogan on Wednesday met with a group of protest sympathizers, including an actress and a singer, to discuss the protests, but many demonstrators said that meeting was unrelated to their action.