Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc threatens to dispatch army to quell protests

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Thousands take part in rallies across the country to demand an end to the police crackdown

Istanbul

The Turkish government said on Monday it may send the army on to the streets to end the unrest that has gripped the country for almost three weeks. The warning came after another night of violent clashes between police and protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Deputy Prime Minister 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.

It’s not clear how far the army would be prepared to intervene if Mr Erdogan ordered it to. He has spent the past decade in power stripping the military of influence in politics, and in recent years he has purged senior generals. The army traditionally views itself as the guardian of the secular values many protesters accuse the Islamist Mr Erdogan of undermining.

The threat follows weeks of often brutal tactics by police that have failed to quell the demonstrations. Protesters have been tear-gassed, beaten and sprayed with water cannon, but they still keep coming onto the streets.

In a disturbing development, supporters of Mr Erdogan were filmed on Sunday night moving through the streets armed with clubs. Witnesses claimed the vigilantes attacked protesters with knives, and that police did nothing to stop them.

Some 5,000 people have been injured since the unrest began, according to Turkish medical officials, and at least four have died. A 16-year-old boy was in a coma yesterday after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired at close quarters by police.

Almost 350 people have been arrested in the last two days alone, according to the Istanbul Bar Association, and many have been denied access to laywers. Those arrested reportedly include a British citizen.

Police have repeatedly targeted medics treating the wounded. One doctor and three nurses are being held, according to the Turkish Doctors’ Union, and staff at the German Hospital said police had attacked the emergency department.

Police have also removed the piano of a German musician who played for protesters. Officers were photographed taking the instrument away after its owner fled the tear-gas assault.

Video: Protest in Taksim Square

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent