Turkey unrest: 'Standing Man' inspires hundreds with silent vigil in Taksim Square

Government denies that it would restrict the use of Twitter or other social media

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has approved a new form of peaceful resistance which has spread through Turkey after almost three weeks of protests.

Hundreds of protesters stood still for hours on squares on main streets in several cities, mimicking a lone protester who started the trend on Istanbul's Taksim Square on Monday and has been dubbed the "Standing Man."

In the first direct government comment on the new style of protest, the deputy prime Minister told reporters that the standing protests are peaceful and "pleasing to the eye." He urged protesters, however, not to obstruct traffic and not to endanger their health.

"This is not an act of violence," Arinc said. "We cannot condemn it."

The first such protest was carried out by performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who stood for eight hours at Taksim Square, in passive defiance of Mr Erdogan. Mr Gunduz stood silently facing a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey.

Hundreds of others joined him in the square, which was reopened on Monday, before being dispersed by police. Others copied him in Istanbul and other cities, and the act provoked widespread comment on social media.

Mr Gunduz's vigil was broken up by police after others joined him.

Mr Gunduz told the BBC: "I'm nothing... The idea is important: why people resist the government. The government doesn't want to understand, didn't try to understand why people are on the streets. This is really silent resistance. I hope people stop and think 'what happened there?'"

The state-run Anadolu Agency said police used water cannons last night to scatter hundreds of protesters who set up barricades in the capital Ankara and in Eskisehir, some 140 miles (230 kilometers) further west.

More than 7,500 people have been injured and at least four people — three demonstrators and a police officer — have been killed as the authorities tried to quell the protests using tear gas and water cannons. Authorities are investigating whether a fifth person who died was exposed to tear gas.

Bulent Arinc denied that Turkey would restrict the use of Twitter or other social media but said the government could consider enacting legislation in a bid to deter users from "inciting crime, spreading lies and disinformation."

"Social media is a part of modern life and none of us can remain outside of it," Arinc said. "But there have to be some deterrents."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoganhas branded Twitter the "worst menace" to society and criticized it for spreading "lies."

Mr Erdogan says he will increase police powers as dozens of demonstrators were questioned by police following a series of raids.

NTV television said the swoops in Ankara and Istanbul targeted left-wing groups. Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said at least 25 people were detained in Ankara and many others in Istanbul.

Mr Erdogan said riot police deployed to disperse protesters had acted with restraint and said their powers would be increased, allowing them more leeway in dealing with future protests.

"Our security forces put up a successful and extremely patient struggle against the acts of violence, by remaining within the limits set by democracy and the law," he said. 

The government said on Monday that it may send the army on to the streets to end the unrest that has gripped the country for almost three weeks.

Bulent Arinc told Turkish state-run television that the government would use “all its powers” to end the unrest. “There is the police, If that’s not enough there’s the gendarmerie [a paramilitary force]. If that’s not enough there are the armed forces,” he added.

The deployment of the military would represent yet another escalation of a crisis that looked to be heading for a peaceful resolution as recently as Saturday, before Mr Erdogan ordered police in to clear protesters from Gezi Park with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Prime Minister is still trying to reign in mass protests that have spread across the country over the past three weeks. The protests gained momentum after police used tear gas against a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul’s Gezi Park on 31 May, objecting to the demolition of the park for a commercial development.

The protests grew into wider demonstrations against Mr Erdogan's perceived attempts to impose a religious and conservative lifestyle in a country which has secular laws. But the prime minister, a devout Muslim, says he is committed to Turkey's secular laws and denies charges of autocracy.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride