There Are Violent Clashes In Turkey As Police Enter Park At The Heart Of Protests

Istanbul Gezi ParkTurkish riot police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators during a protest against the destruction of trees in a park brought about by a pedestrian project, in Taksim Square in central Istanbul May 31, 2013. The protest at Gezi Park started late on Monday after developers tore up trees but has widened into a broader demonstration against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Turkish police forces have moved into Istanbul’s Gezi Park to evict anti-government protestors only hours after the Prime Minister issued a stern ultimatum that they must leave before Sunday, Al Jazeera reports.

“We have our Istanbul rally tomorrow. I say it clearly: Taksim Square must be evacuated, otherwise this country’s security forces know how to evacuate it,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told supporters at a rally in Ankara.

RT reports that several people have been loaded on stretchers and taken away on ambulances, and police are tearing down tents that were being used by protestors.

The move comes after violent clashes erupted on June 11, as hundreds of police raided the square in an attempt to remove the protestors. The square was cleared, but protestors then came back by the thousands — enduring police firing of tear gas canisters, water cannons, and rubber bullets.

The protests began more than two weeks ago when about a dozen people began protesting the removal of trees in Gezi park near the square. The protests then morphed into general anti-government sentiment and now has the backing of Turkey’s robust labour unions.

Here’s are some unconfirmed photos from the ground:

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