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Tens of Thousands Rally to 'Demand an Answer' from Turkish Government

Following nights of violent clashes, thousands rally in largest demonstration since protests began

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Istanbul's Taskim Square Sunday in the largest showing since the mass demonstrations began 13 days ago.

What began as a protest against government plans to raze Gezi Park in Taksim Square to make room for a shopping mall have spiraled into movement against, what the protesters are calling, an authoritarian regime run by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edrogan and his AK Party.

Al Jazeera reports:

Members of a group naming itself Taksim Solidarity Platform organized another rally in Istanbul on Sunday to "cry out their demands" and give an "answer to the government".

The group's demands include restricting police from using tear gas, release of all detained prisoners and the dismissal of officials responsible for the crackdown on the protests over the last few days.

"The demands are obvious. We call on government to take account of the reaction (on the street), act responsibly and fulfill demands being expressed by millions of people everyday," the group said in a statement.

Demonstrators have been camping out in the square for over two weeks, despite the heavy-handed response of the police force which, night after night, has responded to the protests with tear gas and water cannons.

Thus far, three people have been killed in the clashes—two protesters and a policeman—and thousands have been injured, AFP reports.

Also Sunday, in a "rival rally" thousands of Edrogan supporters rallied at the airport to greet his arrival. Responding to the ongoing uprising, Edrogan told the crowd to respond to the demonstrations by voting for his AK Party in next year's polls.

"I want you to teach them a first lesson through democratic means at the ballot box," he said.

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