ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkish police used water cannon Saturday to break up further anti-government protests in central Istanbul, prolonging a stand-off between the demonstrators and security forces.
The protesters had rallied at Istanbul’s Taksim Square after having been driven off twice in the last three weeks. Throngs of people again blocked traffic as they displayed banners decrying the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The first large demonstration in Istanbul in nearly a week attracted an estimated 10,000 people.
Police reportedly asked the demonstrators to clear the streets, then launched operations to remove the protesters. The square was cleared of protesters and reopened to traffic after midnight, though crowds of apparently peaceful demonstrators remained nearby.
Demonstrators displayed banners with slogans such as “Taksim is everywhere” or “Taksim solidarity.” Some participants in the rally threw flowers at police and onto water cannon vehicles. There have also been a series of silent protests in the square.
The protests began as a demonstration against a planned development project on adjoining Gezi Park, but have turned into broader complaints about the government’s conservative policies. Leaders in several Western countries have expressed concern about the level of force used to clear the protesters.
A demonstration in sympathy with the Turkish protesters drew 30,000 people Saturday in Cologne, Germany.