ISTANBUL – Turkish police used water cannons to disperse thousands who had gathered in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on Saturday to observe a memorial for four people killed during a wave of anti-government protests.

The police move, which was more restrained than on previous occasions, came as the demonstrations had appeared to be subsiding in recent days. At the same time, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that foreign-led conspirators he alleges are behind the anti-government movement in Turkey 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 Square. The demonstrations 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.

On Saturday, demonstrators converged in Taksim, where they lay 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.

After the warnings were ignored, police pushed back protesters with water cannons, even chasing stragglers down side streets and apparently blocking entrances to the square. There was no immediate report of any major violence.