First ‘civilian’ Youth Day marked amid tensions
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Şişli distrcit to mark May 19 Youth Day.Following the government’s controversial initiative to curb military presence in celebrations marking national holidays, authorities have denied a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and opposition politicians permission to stage such ceremonies on the anniversary of May 19.
According to a recent regulation issued by the Cabinet, the celebrations of the Day of Youth and Remembrance of Atatürk on May 19 are no longer to include official ceremonies, parades or lavish shows at stadiums.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the celebrations would no longer be in the style of “the states behind the Iron Curtain.”
“This is the real holiday, tanks, cannons and municipal vehicles no longer march on the streets,” he said.
Kemal Kılçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), joined the celebrations in the Black Sea province of Samsun, where he criticized the government’s decision. “Since when do people need permission to remember [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk?” said Kılıçdaroğlu. “We know to challenge every kind of oppression, no despot regime has survived.”
The Interior Ministry issued an official notice indicating that no one except the civilian authorities may lay wreaths in provinces of their districts within the scope of May 19 celebrations. Reports indicated the notice was issued in accordance with the regulations on the celebration of national holidays. Many NGOs upset by the new regulations, however, have announced that they will lay wreaths at Atatürk monuments in their provinces regardless.
Citing the new regulations, the Governor’s Office in the southwestern province of Isparta refused to grant permission for the provincial office of the CHP to hold a wreath-laying ceremony at an Atatürk monument in celebration of May 19.
İsmail Koncuk, the head of the Turkish Public Workers’ Labor Union (Kamu-Sen), said the holiday would now be celebrated with a modest program and expressed his sorrow over the new regulations.