Turkey minister threatens to turn military on Gezi protesters | News | DW | 17.06.2013
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Turkey minister threatens to turn military on Gezi protesters

Turkey has warned that it could use its army to quell protests. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she was "shocked" by footage of clashes between police and protesters.

A Turkish minister has said that the government could use soldiers to end the protests that began peacefully three weeks ago against plans to raze a popular city park - one of Istanbul's green spaces. Turkey's trouble has flared with fresh intensity since Saturday, when officers evicted campers from Gezi Park.

Police "will use all their powers" to end the unrest, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said in a televised interview. "If this is not enough," he added, "we can even utilize the Turkish armed forces in cities."

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Turkish government threatens to call out army against demonstrators

The minister has joined his colleagues in striking a bullish tone to intimidate people into avoiding demonstrations. The protests began as a sit-in to stop developers from razing Gezi's 600 trees; they escalated after a brutal police response, spreading nationwide and now focus as much on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's perceived authoritarian tendencies as the local green space. So far, violence has killed at least four people and injured more than 5,000.

'Terrible images'

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was "shocked, like many other people," by the images of police and protesters clashing in Turkey since May 31.

"There were some terrible images, in which one could see that, in my view, too hard a line is being taken," Merkel said in an interview broadcast on RTL television before her departure for the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. "What's happening in Turkey at the moment does not in my view reflect our understanding of a freedom to demonstrate, freedom to express an opinion."

As protests continued on Monday, Turkey's two main trade unions, KESK and DISK, which represent hundreds of thousands of public sector employees, organized a one-day work stoppage, their second strike action since protests began. Groups of several hundred union members took to the streets in Istanbul, Ankara and the western city Izmir calling for the police violence to "end immediately."

mkg/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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