“That historic moment experienced in Taksim Square yesterday, in the year 2010 on May 1, was never, ever a coincidence. This will absolutely be engraved in minds and find an unforgettable place for itself in history.” That was what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
said. He added this right after: “Turkey is embracing its worker and its civil servant at Taksim.”
Erdoğan also said he commemorated with respect those who lost their lives in the bitter incidents that occurred on May 1, 1977, saying, “At least, their relatives and friends have been sprinkled with a drop of serenity.”
The date of this speech Erdoğan delivered at Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting was May 2, 2010. It was the day after when Taksim Square was re-opened for May Day celebrations after 32 years. The AK Party government had declared May 1 “Labor and Solidarity Day” and Taksim Square had become the stage of a joyful celebration.
When the prime minister said next day that this celebration would be engraved in the minds and find an unforgettable place in history, he was absolutely right. May 1, 2010, has definitely been engraved in minds as a special day in Turkey’s recent history.
Our memory also tells us that Erdoğan in this speech was regarding May 1 as an important democratization move. When we look at the expression “It has been the privilege of the AK Party government to declare today as Labor and Solidarity Day and make it a holiday,” Erdoğan is referring to May 1 as a means of pride.
According to an Anadolu Agency story, the prime minister also said this:
“People who have an objective approach can see how the AK Party can solve many issues in this country. The labor movement, the union movement and the workers are living and following a very hopeful portrayal in the name of Turkey and democracy. May 1, 2010, is the concrete monument of how Turkey has changed, matured, broken its taboos, overcome the status quo, how it has recovered from its fears of agitation and provocation… Turkey had to wait for 32 years for this picture, for this mood of festivity. Yesterday, after 32 years,
this has finally happened. Turkey has finally achieved this.
“Today, all the scenarios that have been staged in Turkey in recent history are being questioned; they are being brought to light. Maybe they were able to keep Taksim closed for 32 years but, in the end, Turkey is embracing its worker and civil servant at Taksim.”
A time of full four years has passed; look what Erdoğan said last week on April 22 at his party’s group meeting about May 1:
“We have not allowed the image of violence to dominate the streets up to this day and we will not allow it from now on either. This spoilt mood should come to an end. Certain NGOs of this country, certain labor organizations and labor unions should now learn the culture of democratic struggle and democratic demonstration.”
He also said the places to hold a rally were determined and whoever wished to celebrate May 1 could go and stage their celebrations at those places permitted by the law. He said rally grounds such as Yenikapı and Maltepe were available. “From now on, Kadıköy is not a meeting place either. Why? Because people living there have paid a big price. A holiday cannot be a day of oppression and torment.”
“I am now requesting, saying it again as the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey: First, give up on Taksim. Please do not engage in tension here with the state. Please do not disturb the peace of our people, our tradesmen there.
“The labor union leader comes out and says, ‘This place is our sacred place.’ Look what he is saying. What kind of sacredness is that? There is a monument there; if you want to visit that monument, you can go there as the executive committee, lay a wreath then go to the other place. Now, you have the metro. Look we have the metro for you. You can go from Taksim to Yenikapı with the metro. We can even make official transportation vehicles free that day in Istanbul. What else we can do… We are doing everything; we are preparing all kinds of means, but then he comes and says, ‘No, I will definitely gather here…’ Well, I’m sorry, but no.
“We know very well that certain people wish to take Turkey to the finale they have reached in Egypt and in Ukraine. They should not strive in vain. They were not able to do it and they will not be able to do it.”
Erdoğan’s May 2, 2010, speech was filled with reaction to those who had closed Taksim Square to workers, civil servants and to unions in the past.
Today is the date May 1, 2014. Erdoğan this time, before history, has taken the side of those who have closed Taksim for May 1.