June 2 - Protesters wearing balaclavas throw rocks at the office of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on the third day of fierce anti-government demonstrations. Rough Cut (No reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Turkey's four biggest cities on Sunday (June 2) and clashed with riot police firing tear gas in the third day of the fiercest anti-government protests in years. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan blamed the main secular opposition party for inciting the crowds, whom he called "a few looters", and said the protests were aimed at depriving his ruling AK Party of votes as elections begin next year. There were clashes between police and protesters near Erdogan's office in a former Ottoman palace in Istanbul. Several groups of protesters wearing balaclavas gathered to hurl rocks towards the office as bystanders rushed to flee in taxis. But in Istanbul's Taksim Square, the atmosphere was more festive with some chanting for Erdogan to resign and others singing and dancing. There was little obvious police presence. Protests on Sunday were not as violent as the past two days but police used tear gas to try to disperse hundreds of people in Ankara's main Kizilay square. There were similar clashes in Izmir and Adana, Turkey's third and fourth biggest cities. The unrest erupted on Friday (May 31) when trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul's main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area, but widened into a broad show of defiance against the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). The protests, started by a small group of environmental campaigners, mushroomed when police used force to eject them from the park on Taksim Square. As word spread online, the demonstrations have drawn in a wide range of people of all ages from across the political and social spectrum. Erdogan said the plans to remake the square, long an iconic rallying point for mass demonstrations, would go ahead, including the construction of a new mosque and the rebuilding of a replica Ottoman-era barracks.