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Continued: Party official: Turkish gov't open to referendum over development plans that started protests

  • Article by: ASSOCIATED PRESS , ELENA BECATOROS and JAMEY KEATEN
  • Last update: June 12, 2013 - 6:25 PM

As if to let the referendum proposal sink in, the Istanbul governor, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, tweeted that riot police would not enter the park on Wednesday.

Turkish leaders were also grappling with a public image stain. International TV networks have beamed images of clashes on the square, including a muscular police sweep overnight Tuesday to Wednesday that Turkey's Human Rights Foundation said injured more than 600 people, including a 1-year-old baby.

In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the events in Istanbul "disturbing and concerning," while stopping short of criticizing Erdogan's response. A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany's government was watching developments "with great preoccupation," and urged "de-escalation."

Over the two weeks, four people have died in the protests, including a police officer, and more than 5,000 people have been injured or sought treatment for tear gas.

The protests took a new flavor earlier Wednesday as thousands of black-robed lawyers stormed out of their courthouses to deride allegedly rough treatment of their colleagues detained by police a day earlier. Sema Aksoy, the deputy head of the Ankara lawyer's association, said the lawyers were handcuffed and pulled over the ground. She called the police action an affront to Turkey's judicial system.

"Lawyers can't be dragged on the ground!" the demonstrating lawyers shouted in rhythm as they marched out of an Istanbul courthouse. Riot police stood off to the side, shields at the ready.

A spokesman for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said police had detained two of its reporters covering the protests in Istanbul. Sasa Petricic and Derek Stoffel were in "good condition," CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called the Turkish ambassador to express his concerns.

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Keaten reported from Ankara. Suzan Fraser and Ezgi Akin in Ankara, Cassandra Vinograd in London, Juergen Baetz in Berlin, and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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