Thousands mark May Day in Turkey

Thousands mark May Day in Turkey

Thousands mark May Day in Turkey

DHA Photo

Thousands of people have marked May 1 International Workers’ Day in Turkey, with police detaining dozens of protesters during the events.

The official demonstrations in Istanbul were held in the Bakırköy district after the authorities banned celebrations from being held in Taksim Square. 

The police presence was heavy across the city, with helicopters buzzing overhead.

Representatives of political parties and labor unions attended the gathering in Bakırköy, including the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB), as well as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Strict security measures were taken during the event and control points were set on the roads leading to the area. The police searched the demonstrators as well as the banners they carried. 

The groups gathered in several points around Bakırköy and marched to the area while carrying banners reading slogans in support of workers’ rights. 

Three people were detained near the area after opening a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) flag.

A brawl also erupted between the police and a group at the entrance of the area after members of the latter refused to undergo a search. The police determined that the group was carrying banners of illegal organizations and detained some in the group, as others tried to knock down the police barricades. Police then opened fire into the air to disperse the crowd. 

DİSK head Kani Beko, KESK head Lami Özgen, TMMOB head Emin Koramaz and TTB head Prof. Raşit Türkel entered the meeting area together. 

Thousands mark May Day in Turkey

The demonstrators stood in silence for one minute to commemorate those killed in 1977 at Taksim Square, when suspected ultranationalists opened fire from what is now the Marmara Hotel. 

Meanwhile, Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar and a group of municipality workers laid a wreath at the Taksim Republic Monument to mark the day. Hazinedar then walked toward the Kazancı Hill to place carnations on a monument built for the 34 people who lost their lives in 1977, but was unable to do so due to the police barricade. 

The Confederation of Righteous Trade Unions (HAK-İŞ) also laid a wreath at the Republic Monument. 

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters who attempted to enter Taksim Square were detained. 

Two women entered the square despite tightened security measures and the heavy police presence early on May 1. The women unfurled a banner in the square but were initially halted by traffic police before being taken to the police headquarters. 

Thousands mark May Day in Turkey

Police in Mecidiyeköy used tear gas and rubber bullets on a group of protesters who were attempting to march toward Taksim Square chanting “Taksim is ours and it will remain ours.”

Meanwhile, some 165 people were detained during the celebrations, Doğan News Agency has reported.

In Beşiktaş, where two years ago police used water cannon on stone-throwing May Day demonstrators, dozens of people were rounded up for attempting to make their way to Taksim.

Meanwhile, some 165 people were detained across Istanbul, the security general directorate said in a written statement.   

It said 139 of them were detained over unauthorized marches, 17 were detained for opening illegal banners, three were detained for carrying chains in order to block roads, three were detained for disturbing the peace, and three were detained for carrying fireworks and illegal banners.

It also added that the security forces seized 85 Molotov cocktails, three fireworks, and 95 paint-filled bottles, as well as masks and banners during operations on April 30 and May 1.

More than 30,000 police officers were on duty across Turkey’s largest city, while three helicopters and 120 water cannon vehicles were also deployed, according to the statement.        

Some 4,500 police officers were on duty in the capital Ankara, while 4,000 were on duty in the western province of İzmir. 

In İzmir, a quarrel erupted between CHP members and police at the entrance of the city’s Gündoğdu Square, which CHP deputy Mustafa Balbay attempted to stop. The sides briefly stopped their quarrel when the National Anthem started to play, but it descended into a brawl after the anthem ended. 

In the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, strict security measures were also taken.