Inconsistency about Taksim Mayday celebrations
The right-wing Labor Confederation (Hak-İş) trade union came with a janissary band; the left-wing Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) came with shawm-and-drums, while the central Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş) came with banners. Some minor groups had their own clothes and their own slogans, for instance, the anti-capitalist Muslims. In 2012, a crowd of all colors, about 600,000 people, celebrated Mayday in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. These scenes have been left in the past. Whether this day is celebrated joyfully or sadly, Taksim is always a wound in my heart, the wound of May 1, 1977.
In the first years of the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), workers celebrated Mayday in Istanbul’s Kadıköy, Çağlayan and Saraçhane squares. These squares proved to be insufficient for them.
In 2007, it was the 30th anniversary of the May 1, 1977, incidents, when 37 people died. Süleyman Çelebi, the head of DİSK at the time, was uncompromising. “We will be in Taksim,” he said. Despite tear gas, water cannons and clubs, 8,000 workers went to Taksim.
In 2008, plenty of gas, TOMA vehicles and police clubs were present. Taksim was banned and many people were injured.
In 2009, somehow commonsense prevailed and the decision was “A reasonable number can go to Taksim.” The “reasonable number” became a giant and all of a sudden 150,000 people were in Taksim on May 1, hugging each other.
In 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at his party group meeting in parliament, ordering that “nothing would be done against our will.” Despite his very negative lecture, all of a sudden the wind blew positively and Taksim was allowed.
In 2011, Taksim was the scene of folk dances; the square was like a flower garden. A few hundred thousand workers were present.
In 2012, surprise, Taksim was not a demonstration area. Well, didn’t people celebrate there without any incidents after you allowed it? Why the wind blew from the opposite direction, nobody knows. Taksim was banned, as it was again in 2013 and 2014. This year, it is again banned.
With 2012, the stirring in society started to increase, as the reactions and slogans in the squares and the democratic resistance started scaring the government. The Gezi Park incidents are the typical example.
Wherever there is social opposition, wherever demonstrators are out in the streets, concerns grow.
Tomorrow is May 1 and the trade unions and the government are again in a showdown. You had allowed them before. If they go to Taksim now and they celebrate it in peace, then you will win. But winning is behind now. It is the time of scolding constantly and regulating everybody.
ECHR judgment dated 2012
In 2008, Mayday celebrations in Taksim were prohibited. Left-wing trade unions DİSK and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The court’s ruling of Oct. 27, 2012, stated that as a result of the police intervention, the applicants were not able to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, which is against a democratic society.
Also, the government was to provide security for legal demonstrations.
“As a result, Taksim Square became a symbol of that tragic event, and it is for this reason that the applicants insisted in organizing the Labor Day celebrations in Taksim in commemoration. In this connection, the Court is also informed that since 2010, Labor Day has become a national holiday in Turkey and celebrations in Taksim Square are now permitted.”
The court decided unanimously that this ban violated the right to assembly.
Turkey was convicted, but, as we all have become quite familiar, the government does not carry out the ECHR’s judgment.