Turkish police are conducting raids on left-wing groups in Istanbul and Ankara, making dozens of arrests. The unrest that has gripped the country for over two weeks shows little sign of abating, and the government has threatened to deploy the military.
Police in Ankara made 25 arrests on Tuesday in multiple raids at
addresses across the Turkish capital, local media reported. In a
similar crackdown in Istanbul officers took 66 activists into
custody, as well as 13 in the western city of Eskisehir.
Clashes erupted once again on Monday as police in Istanbul sought
to disperse striking trade union workers who were demanding an
end to police violence. Officers used teargas and water cannons
on protesters who scuffled with police at different points around
the city. Separately, a number of demonstrations were held across
the country in solidarity with the ‘Occupy Gezi Park’ movement.
The Turkish government condemned the unrest on Monday, and said
it may deploy the military to bring the anti-government protests
“Our police, our security forces are doing their jobs. 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,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told
state TV. He decried the unions’ strike as “illegal,” and
warned that further protests would not be tolerated.
Arinc’s words echo the government’s increasingly strong rhetoric against the protesters. During an AK party rally on Sunday, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told supporters that the activists were being manipulated by terrorists and dismissed accusations that he was behaving like a dictator.
In a strong rebuke of the European Parliament’s condemnation of
recent Turkish police brutality, he stated the institution had
“no honesty” and needed to “learn its place.” Erdogan has
defended the police’s use of pepper spray against protesters,
calling it their “natural right.”
He added that the protests have now caused around $60 million of
The protests first began on May 28 over a plan to redevelop Gezi
Park, located on Taksim Square, and have now snowballed into
national movement against a government that activists regard as
overly “authoritarian.” Many have criticized Erdogan for his
autocratic approach to government, and for impressing
conservative Islamist values on a secular society.
The violent unrest sweeping Turkey has so far left over 5,000 people injured and at least four dead. In the last 48 hours, police have taken over 500 people into custody.