The government may use the army to end the wave of protests across Turkey if police are unable to quell the unrest, Deputy Prime Minister Büllent Arinç said Monday.
"What we must do is end illegal protests. We have the police and the Gendarmerie if it's not enough. And if it's not enough, the armed forces. The law gives us that authority," Arinç said in a television interview picked up by the Hürriyet newspaper.
Arinç defended the actions taken by police, who have been accused both in Turkey and abroad of using excessive force, in the interview with A Haber television.
More than 500 people were arrested Sunday in clashes between police and demonstrators in different cities across Turkey.
Protesters and riot police fought until the early morning hours Monday in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities, media reports said.
About 390 people were arrested in Istanbul alone, while 150 others were detained in Ankara, the Hürriyet newspaper reported on its Web site, citing the Istanbul Bar Association.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's supporters attacked anti-government demonstrators who were fleeing from police during clashes in downtown Istanbul, Hürriyet reported.
Two labor unions and three professional associations, meanwhile, declared strikes Monday and staged marches against the government, which labeled the work stoppages illegal.
The five organizations have about 800,000 members across Turkey. EFE