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Turkish Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannons on Ankara Protesters

A referendum might be held on the future of Gezi Park in Istanbul.
Protesters in Ankara, Turkey.

Protesters in Ankara, Turkey.

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Turkish police on Thursday fired tear gas and water cannons on protesters hiding behind barricades made from paving stones and roadside signs, in the capital Ankara.

Thousands of protesters gathered at Kugulu Park in Ankara, to support Gezi Park demonstrations in Istanbul, then hundreds of them marched from the park to the Kennedy Avenue near the  United States embassy, where they erected barricades to block the armored police trucks carrying water cannons.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said a referendum might be held on the future of Gezi Park in Istanbul, ruling Justice and Development Party deputy Chairman Huseyin Celik told the press.

Celik said, following Erdogan’s five-hour meeting with representatives of the Gezi Park protesters in Ankara, that the referendum, if held, would only include the Gezi Park, not the nearby Ataturk Cultural Center, which may also be on the demolition list as part of a program to revamp Taksim Square.

“Those with bad intentions, seeking provocation and persisting in staying at the park will be facing the police,” he warned.

The government’s move came after more than two weeks of nationwide anti-government protests in solidarity of the demonstrators at Gezi Park, which witnessed fierce clashes between police and protesters.

The protests have left at least three people dead, nearly 5,000 injured and thousands detained.

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