Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan held his own rally yesterday not long after a major routing of protestors from Gezi park and Taksim Square, who had been demonstrating for nearly three weeks.
The square was cordoned off after chasing the protestors away with tear gas and water cannon.
The prime minister addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters who had been bused and ferried in to hear his speech at Istanbul’s Kazlicesme.
The AKP meeting in Istanbul’s Kazlicesme, not very far from Gezi Park, was a part of the party‘s official launch of the local elections campaign, which is set to be held in March next year.
Party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself said at an earlier Ankara meeting that the “Respect for the National Will” meetings were not a move against the Gezi protests, but rather an expression of popular support for the government.
“Those who wonder about what’s going on in Turkey should better look at Kazlicesme in Istanbul,” Erdogan told his supporters in Istanbul.
“These hundreds of thousands of people are not the ones who have burned and destroyed; these hundreds of thousands of people are not traitors like those who throw Molotov cocktails at my people. Whatever we do, we’ll remain within the frame of democracy and the rule of law. We have never pushed the limits of legality,” he said.
He then went on to slam the international press for misrepresenting events. “If the international media want a picture of Turkey, the picture is here,” he said. “CNN, Reuters, BBC, hide this picture too, and go on with your lies”.