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Turkey gov’t warns it may deploy army as trade unions join protests

Al Manar

The Turkish Government warned on Monday to deploy the army in order to curb anti-government protests, as two main trade unions started a nationwide strike after police cleared protests from Istanbul protest park.

Police “will use all their powers” to end the unrest, said in a televised interview. “If this is not enough, we can even utilise the Turkish armed forces in cities.”

The presence of soldiers on the streets would mark a major escalation of a crisis that has raged for nearly three weeks and has posed the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The announcement came as police continued to spray tear gas and water at clusters of demonstrators in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, in battles that raged with fresh intensity after the weekend eviction of protesters occupying Istanbul’s Gezi Park, the epicenter of the protest movement.

Earlier, The KESK and DISK trade unions, who together represent hundreds of thousands of workers, called a one-day stoppage to object to the police violence against protesters, and said they planned to hold demos in the late afternoon.

“Our demand is for police violence to end immediately,” KESK spokesman Baki Cinar told AFP, adding that the unions would be joined by striking engineers, dentists and doctors.

Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler condemned the stoppage as “illegal” and warned strikers not to take to the streets, as Erdogan defended his crackdown on Gezi Park.

The weekend violence has intensified a crisis that poses the biggest challenge yet to Erdogan’s decade-long rule.
Nearly 600 people were arrested in the scuffles on Sunday alone, according to the Ankara and Istanbul bar associations.

Erdogan Defends Crackdown
At a rally of more than 100,000 supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday, the premier insisted it was his “duty” to order police to storm Gezi Park after protesters defied his warnings to clear out.

“I said we were at an end. That it was unbearable. Yesterday the operation was carried out and it was cleaned up,” a combative Erdogan told a sea of flag-waving loyalists. “It was my duty as prime minister.”

Erdogan’s words were met with roaring approval from the audience, the largest crowd to assemble since the crisis began. Many chanted: “The people are here, where are the looters?”, using Erdogan’s description of the demonstrators.

At the same time, riot police were fighting running battles with thousands of protesters determined to regroup after being ousted from Gezi Park and the adjoining Taksim Square, a mere 10 kilometers (six miles) away from the AKP rally.

Turkey’s political turmoil first began when a peaceful sit-in to save Gezi Park’s 600 trees from being razed prompted a brutal police response on May 31, spiralling into countrywide demonstrations against Erdogan.

The crisis has claimed four lives and injured nearly 7,500 people so far, according to the Turkish Medical Association.

2 responses to “Turkey gov’t warns it may deploy army as trade unions join protests

  1. Pingback: Turkey May Deploy Army as Protest Clashes Continue | World News Curator

  2. Pingback: Turkey Warns It May Use Army to Quell Protests | Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News

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