Tens of thousands of demonstrators reportedly flooded into Taksim park earlier today after riot police retreated, having failed to evict protestors opposed to the park's demolition, which began Monday. Recep Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister who said on Wednesday the protests wouldn't change his mind on the issue, has blamed the broader break out of protests against his government in Istanbul, Ankara, and elsewhere, on the opposition.
Erdogan said the redevelopment of Gezi Park was being used as an excuse for the unrest and warned the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which had been given permission to hold a rally in Istanbul, against stoking tensions.
But the protests included a broad spectrum of people opposed to Erdogan and were not organised by any political party.
CHP officials called on its members not to take party flags with them to the protests, apparently concerned they would be held responsible for the violence, and party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused Erdogan of behaving like a dictator.
Erdogan says for every hundred thousand protesters, the AKP can bring out a million people and that demonstrators should go to the polls, not protest. Erdogan is in his third term as prime minister, and has ruled since 2003.