Turkey’s two major unions—which consist of roughly 800,000 workers—went on a one-day strike on Monday to show solidarity with the protesters who were evicted from Gezi Park on Saturday night. Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler denounced the strike as “illegal.” Sporadic clashes between police and protesters continued in Istanbul, where police violently removed protesters on Saturday night ahead of a rally in support of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At Sunday’s rally, Erdogan told hundreds of thousands that the two weeks of countrywide protests had been manipulated by “terrorists” and denied that he was behaving like a dictator. Meanwhile, the president of the Turkish medical association told the BBC that five doctors and three nurses had disappeared since treating the protesters.
The Turkish deputy prime minister has said that the army could be deployed to halt protests that have swept the nation over the past two weeks.
Bulent Arinc on Monday said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) could be pressed into action if the police failed to restore order.
"What is required of us is to stop if there is a protest against the law. Here is the police, if not enough gendarme, if not TSK," he said in a televised interview to the A Haber channel.
The threat came as members of two union federations in Turkey went on a one-day strike over the forced evictions of protesters from Istanbul's Gezi Park a day earlier.
Labour groups representing doctors, engineers and dentists are also said to have joined the strike on Monday. The striking groups represent about 800,000 workers.
The Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the strike was "illegal" and warned of police action.
The call for the strike came as police and protesters clashed sporadically in Istanbul overnight following a weekend of scuffles in the city.
Riot police, some in plain clothes and carrying batons, backed by a helicopter, fired teargas and chased groups of rock-throwing youths into side streets around the iconic Taksim Square and Gezi Park late on Sunday night, trying to prevent them from regrouping.