While we still have time before May 1

While we still have time before May 1

While I was searching newspaper archives for “past May Days,” I came across the front page of daily Milliyet of 2001, which had a very funny “number.”

The paper had published a statement and was asking “Who do these words belong to?” It said the answer was on Page 16, inviting the reader to turn the pages of the paper.

The statement went like this: “Our workers, in order to gain their rights, have been engaged in great struggles throughout history. I wish all the best to our workers on the occasion of this day.”

This test-style exam had these options as answers:  

A-    Karl Marx
B-    V.I. Lenin
C-    Tommy Hilfiger
D-    Tansu Çiller

The right answer was Tansu Çiller, the 22nd prime minister of Turkey.

Major advancement

This Çiller test was actually a major advancement when we look back at other May Days in the archive. There have been bloody May 1 rallies full of clashes where people were killed and injured. On one occasion in 1990, some 2,240 people were detained in one day. There was also a news story from the year 1986 that I came across while searching the archive.

What was that story? Here it goes:

“In Parliament, when Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) deputy Aydın Güven Gürkan said ‘May 1 is the labor holiday,’ he was attacked by Motherland Party [ANAP] deputies. The General Secretary of ANAP Mustafa Taşar, Deputy Chair of ANAP Bülent Akarcalı and Deputy Group Chair Pertev Aşçıoğlu  said, ‘Gürkan should come out and declare whether he is a communist or not’…”

Taksim Square of Istanbul

Well, here I have prepared a question for you, actually two questions:

Question: Who do these statements below belong to?

Statement 1: “It is not a coincidence that May 1 is being celebrated in Taksim [Square of Istanbul]. This celebration of the concrete monument of how Turkey has changed, how it has matured, how taboos have been shattered, how the status quo has been overcome and how the fears of agitation and provocation have been eliminated…”

Statement 2: “I wanted to share with you that the Labor and Solidarity Day has been completed in our city Istanbul as a non-violent day. Several security measures have been taken in Taksim Square and the surrounding side streets; however, since there was no negative incident, police forces were not seen much in the vicinity.”  

Answers: 1) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (2010). 2) Hüseyin Avni Mutlu – Governor of Istanbul (2011).

There is no need to be the wisest man on earth. Like in 2010 and 2011, when Taksim was opened to masses, we saw that there were no incidents; we know that. Apart from this, whenever there was an obstruction or a ban, blood and violence prevailed.

We still have time; it is not too late. The past experiences are out there…

What else can I say?