News / Middle East

Turkey Warns It May Use Army to Quell Protests

Members of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) take part in a protest in central Ankara, June 17, 2013.
Members of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) take part in a protest in central Ankara, June 17, 2013.
VOA News
The Turkish government says it may use the army to help stop anti-government protests after nearly three weeks of violent demonstrations in several cities across the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday that if police power is not enough, "elements of the Turkish Armed Forces" will assist to maintain order.

His comments came as two major Turkish trade unions held a nationwide strike against the police crackdown on the Gezi Park demonstrators. The unions, which together represent hundreds of thousands of workers, called for police violence to "end immediately."

Most of the strikes were peaceful, but riot police faced off briefly Monday with about 1,000 trade union workers in the capital, Ankara. More marches took place in other cities, despite government warnings they would not be tolerated.

Small-scale clashes with protesters occurred in Istanbul on the sidelines of a demonstration called by labor groups.

On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told hundreds of thousands of supporters it was his "duty" to evict the activists from Gezi Park and the adjacent Taksim Square. He said the two weeks of street protests were manipulated by "terrorists" and he dismissed opposition allegations that he was behaving like a dictator.

Protests in Turkey Timeline

Protests that started two weeks ago against government plans to tear down the park for new construction quickly built into nationwide protests against Erdogan. The demonstrators accuse him of imposing his conservative Islamic views on the country.

The prime minister told protesters last week that he would put redevelopment plans for the park on hold until a court rules on them. He also said he would hold a referendum on the issue if the court rules in the government's favor.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

  • A man stands during a silent protest in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, June 18, 2013.
  • People stand in a silent protest in Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 18, 2013.
  • Riot police fire tear gas towards protesters during clashes on Kennedy Street in central Ankara, June 18, 2013.
  • Riot police fire a water cannon at protesters during clashes on Kennedy Street in central Ankara, June 18, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters gather on the Galata bridge in Istanbul, June 16, 2013.
  • People carry the coffin of Ethem Sarisuluk, one of five people killed during the recent protests, Ankara, Turkey, June 16, 2013.
  • Turkish riot police spray water cannon at demonstrators in Kizilay Square in Ankara, Turkey, June 16, 2013.
  • People run as riot police fire a water cannon on Gezi Park protesters, Istanbul, June 15, 2013.
  • Protesters are attacked by a police water cannon at the entrance to Gezi Park, Istanbul, June 15, 2013.
  • Riot police fire tear gas and a water cannon at protesters in Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 15, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
June 20, 2013 9:09 AM
Erdogan's continued inflamatory and divisive rethoric continues to flame the civil unrest. It is unfortunate, but Erdogan is the biggest problem wrt Turkey's unrest. He needs to cool off, step back, and out of the way/limelight, and above all else he needs to stop his grandstanding. The last thing Turkey needs is to push the disent underground. Things had quieted down, when he indicated that he would meet with representatives of the disenters, unfortunately soon afterwards he once again inflamed the conflict, by his speech to his supporters.

Soon Turkey's economy will start suffering, which will lead to more unrest; unless this conflict is defused Turkey's prosperity will be gone; threatening to bring the army onto the streets, can only make the situation worse. Meeting with Hamas, a designated terrorist org, really makes one wonder what is going on in his head. Erdogan needs to cool down, I hope his allies/any friends, need to talk him down from whatever he is high on....

by: T from: Sydney
June 17, 2013 9:01 PM
I'm yawning as I write this and will do so when I see persistent televised drama. Michael Moore can make something out of this right? Why do the Turks need a weak leader? Come on Mike tell em the price! Livings standards or standards and poors!

by: Anonymous
June 17, 2013 6:11 PM
It would not surprise me whatsoever if Assad even had his hands in this mess. Trying to provoke war in Turkey just to sidetrack everything from his own war he will never win.

by: Anonymous
June 17, 2013 6:10 PM
Best word of advice for Turkey. Always work for the people. If the people are not happy, have a vote. This will reassure the people what is in the countries best interest. People love leaders that work for the people. People hate leaders that do not work for the people, take for instance Assad... This is how the war in Syria began.

Do what is best for the people of Turkey and show how legit you are towards their interests. Denounce the continuation of the park until further notice, and listen to the people... Try and work with them. Don't ruffle your feathers and turn your back at them! My two cents suggestion could avert your country from catastrophe of the people.

Remember it is the people that make up a country, not the leader. It's too bad Assad didn't realise this before he began killing the people of Syria.
In Response

by: chessper from: china
June 17, 2013 8:38 PM
what you say is never correct in China.

June 17, 2013 1:33 PM
At the beginning I felt sympathy towards those in Gezi Park and I thought our prime minister's tone was too harsh. But now the protests there have turned into something else. Nothing can justify behavior like cursing the prime minister's mother and burning buses. This is anarchy, and today we are here to show that our prime minister is not alone. The protests began on 28 May against a plan to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park, on the city's central Taksim Square, but it snowballed into nationwide anti-government protests after the perceived high-handed response of the authorities under their three-term prime minister. the innocent demonstrations that began 20 days ago" had "completely ended".

Our police, our security forces are doing their jobs, PM’ decision to crack down on protestors in Istanbul and other cities across the country has allowed him to stamp his authority on proceedings. It is nothing more than the minority's attempt to dominate the majority. I don’t think that, government is increasingly interfering in the "lifestyle choices" of individuals.Turkey has bitter memories of that in the past

by: MOOSE from: USA
June 17, 2013 12:44 PM
The defunct and arrogant PM must resign, but he will not.
His shameless disregard to democracy is bringing Turkey to the brink of a civil war. Hundreds of thousands, millions gathered in all of 81 cities protesting this defunct tyrant's blatant human rights violations, not a single protestor was armed, not a single protestor was violent, yet again, PM unleashed his uniformed thugs on them with tear gas, with water cannons. There are videos of uniformed police shooting at protestors with slingshots. Shamelessly, the PM is accusing the protestors of terrorism, of brutality, get a grip Mr.

Erdogan, those protestors, unlike the mere 100.000 you paid to come to your meeting and shuttled in city buses using the government resources are not terrorists. You can not and will not use Turkish Military against their own people. Even though you hollowed out the military and placed your sold out and brain washed followers in key command points, the foot soldiers are still part of the same people you threaten to unleash them on. Get a grip Mr. Prime Minister, RESIGN !
In Response

by: T from: Sydney
June 17, 2013 8:56 PM
Words of exaggeration.
Name once when this has never ever occurred in western states????

by: Anonymous
June 17, 2013 11:06 AM
Oh yea call in the army and reap a Syria, if you're tired of Turkey. When they call him a dictator, he calls a rally of his supporters to say it's a misnomer. Then he behaves like one, should he not be called a tyrant? Surely, Erdogan is bound to borrow the administrative style of the social/religious dictatorship in Iran and deal with the ordinary man in like manners. Until it ends up like that, the true colours of the PM may not be fully known - a man who has little patience for diplomacy!

by: Daox from: USA
June 17, 2013 10:43 AM
So let me ask you something Prime Minister... if you are burning the stew... why would turning up the heat help?

Everything you have done so far was wrong... you have developed the "What not to Do" book on protests... what started as peaceful you made a riot... and now you want to bring in military over a park?
Yeah your reign is on its last legs... I predict we see your government overthrown in a year.
In Response

by: Bilge from: TURKEY
June 17, 2013 1:35 PM
I really understand why American and European people so happy about the protests against RTE and his party! ( As an opponents of using disproportionate force against innocent people in Gezi park, Taksim or in any other protests) i know that people of my country don't need your support to use their fundamental rights! I don't think you're acting in this way because of your strong love of the democracy but because of trying to defend your interests!!!! If i am wrong, if your nation have just white(!) willings for us please don't interfere too much with our own matters anymore!!! Best regards ...

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