Divided Ankara hosts two marches
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Police officers leave Sıhhiye following a May Day protest. Two separate demonstrations were held yesterday in the capital to mark the May Day. DAILY NEWS photos, Selahattin SÖNMEZStarkly contrasting levels of ardor and slogans marked the two May Day demonstrations held in Ankara yesterday, after unions close to and opposed to the government failed to agree on a joint action.
Greeted with applause, Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik made a speech at Tandoğan Square, where some 3,000 members of the Confederation of Righteous Trade Unions (Hak-İş) and the Confederation of Public Servants’ Trade Unions (Memur-Sen), which are on good terms with the government, held a lackluster rally. Leading figures of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also attended the gathering. Banners and chants at the rally were dominated by appeals for pay raises and the right to wear the Islamic headscarf in state offices. The crowd rarely shouted slogans, and did so only after encouragement by an announcer. A traditional Ottoman military band and a folk dance troupe performed at the rally. Most of the demonstrators, however, dispersed around noon, even before pop singer Mustafa Ceceli took the stage.
The joint declaration of Hak-İş and Memur-Sen demanded the preservation of severance pay and the removal of the sub-contractor system as well as broader freedom of thought and conscience.
At nearby Sıhhiye Square, about 15,000 people gathered for a second rally, organized by the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), chanting leftist and anti-government slogans. “Freedom, equality and education in mother tongue”, “The U.S. is a murderer, the AKP is a collaborator,” and “No to war in Syria” the banners read