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
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'