The police move came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that foreign-led conspirators he alleges are behind the anti-government movement in his country also are fomenting the recent unrest in Brazil.
The protests in Turkey erupted three weeks ago after riot police brutally cracked down on peaceful environmental activists who opposed plans to develop Gezi Park, which lies next to Taksim. The demonstrations soon turned into expressions of discontent with what critics say is Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian and meddlesome ways.
Erdogan, who took power a decade ago, denies he is authoritarian and, as evidence of his popularity, points to elections in 2011 that returned his party to power with 50 percent of the vote and gave him a third term in office.
On Saturday, demonstrators converged in Taksim, where they laid down carnations in remembrance of at least three protesters and a police officer killed in the rallies. For about two hours, protesters shouted anti-government slogans and demanded that Erdogan resign before police warned them to leave the square.
Some demonstrators tried to give carnations to the security forces watching over the square, shouting: "Police, don't betray your people." But after their warnings to disperse were ignored, police pushed back protesters with water cannon, even chasing stragglers down side streets and apparently blocking entrances to the square.
An Associated Press journalist said police drove back protesters into side streets off Taksim – including the main pedestrian shopping street Istiklal – and later fired several rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter the crowds who refused to disperse. There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Dogan news agency footage showed two police officers hitting protesters with batons and kicking them as they forced their way through Istiklal street. A few demonstrators threw rocks at a police water cannon, while other protesters tried to calm them down and prevent them from attacking police.
Police in the capital, Ankara, also sprayed tear gas and pressurized water to break up hundreds of protesters who gathered in two neighborhoods, wanting to march to the city's main square, Dogan reported.
Last week, police had used water cannon as well as tear gas and rubber bullets to clear Taksim and end an occupation of Gezi Park by activists. But the demonstrations had largely subsided in Istanbul in recent days, with many protesters using a new, more passive approach of airing their grievances: standing motionless.
Erdogan has faced fierce international criticism for his government's crackdown on the protests, but he has defended his administration's actions as well as the tough police tactics. He also has blamed the protests on unspecified foreign forces, bankers and foreign and Turkish media outlets he says want to harm Turkish interests.
Brazil, meanwhile, has been hit by mass rallies set off this month by a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere. The protests soon moved beyond that issue to tap into widespread frustration in the South American nation over a range of issues, including high taxes and woeful public services.
During an address to tens of thousands of his backers in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun, the latest stop in a series of rallies he has called to shore up his political support, Erdogan declared that Brazil was the target of the same conspirators he claims are trying to destabilize Turkey.
"The same game is now being played over Brazil," Erdogan said. "The symbols are the same, the posters are the same, Twitter, Facebook are the same, the international media is the same. They (the protests) are being led from the same center.
"They are doing their best to achieve in Brazil what they could not achieve in Turkey. It's the same game, the same trap, the same aim."
YOU ARE RIGHT Mr. PM ABOUT CONSPIRACY. FIND OUT WHICH IS THAT COUNTRY THAT CALLS TURKEY AS A FRIENDLY COUNTRY AFTER A BREAK DOWN OF RELATIONSHIP. ISRAEL DID NOT LIKE TO HAVE BOWED DOWN TO AGREE TO THE DEMANDS OF TURKEY.COULD THAT BE THE COUNTRY'S INTELLIGENT UNIT MOSSAD WORKING FROM BEHIND THE SCENE
Mr. PM don’t you forget that Israel is a terrorist country and is highly vengeanceful state. May be you find it is the country that vehemently is objecting Turkey's entry to EU. Suggest watch out always for your country's welfare this unreliable friendly enemy country activities without any break. To find out why it would do that and you would get the answer. With regard to Brazil it is because to damage the reputation of BRICS morbidly. No Intelligence unit does such work until it is the concern of a lobby group's interest against BRICS.
Gear up the Intelligence unit and watch out MOSSAD and Israel’s diplomatic move against Turkey. Similarly, other countries of the world should be on the lookout for Israel’s notorious destructive intelligent unit MOSSAD working against the country. It would be proper to hang the members of Mossad caught in any part of the world. This Mossad agents are at work in EGYPT also.
Israel takes the pleasure to be assessed by the Super powers as the forth-military world power. A Frankenstein created by super powers to soon learn that there is no difference between the Frankenstein’s Frankenstein and super power’s Frankenstein. Wait to see this truth..