18 Jun 2013

Army could be used against protesters - Turkish govt

5:24 am on 18 June 2013

The Turkish government warned on Monday could use the army to end unrest by protesters in Istanbul and other cities.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told State TV the government would use "all its powers" and the armed forces if necessary.

It is the first time the AKP ruling party has raised the prospect of deploying the armed forces. The army is seen as a bastion of secularism.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday that the protesters were manipulated by "terrorists".

Trade unions called a strike on Monday to protest against the crackdown on demonstrators in which some 500 people have been arrested by police.

However, Interior Minister Muammer Guler has called the national strike illegal and warned that anyone taking part will face the consequences.

The protests began on 28 May against a plan to redevelop Gezi Park in Taksim Square in Istanbul, and have since snowballed into nationwide anti-government protests.

Mr Arinc said that "the innocent demonstrations that began 20 days ago" had "completely ended".

Any further demonstrations would be "immediately suppressed", he added.

Our police, our security forces are doing their jobs," he said. "If it's not enough then the gendarmes will do their jobs. If that's not enough... we could even use elements of the Turkish armed forces."