Turkey marks May Day amid pandemic

Turkey marks May Day amid pandemic

Turkey marks May Day amid pandemic

The International Workers' Day, also known as May Day, was marked by labor unions, NGOs and political parties across Turkey.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and the weekend curfew Ankara implemented, rallies were not held on May 1. Nevertheless, May Day was celebrated with "social distancing" in various cities on April 30.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 30 also commemorated International Workers' Day.

"We will continue to support all kinds of sincere work to be done in line with the protection of our workers' rights. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with employees," he said.  

"I hope that May 1, which is celebrated as a day of unity and solidarity of workers all over the world, will lead to a fair work environment, and I greet all my citizens with my most heartfelt feelings.” 

Turkey marks May Day amid pandemicThe president said his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been struggling to establish labor justice since coming to power, adding the government believed in peaceful ways of claiming laborers’ rights. 

"While struggling with the [coronavirus] outbreak, we do our best to ensure that no citizens are aggrieved, and especially to safeguard the continuity of employment. With the programs we implement under the social safety net, we try to minimize the problems caused by the outbreak in our employees’ lives.  

"As Turkey grows and prospers, we will make every endeavor in order for each individual member of our nation to benefit from the added value that emerges," Erdoğan added. 

Touching on the fight against the novel coronavirus, Erdoğan said: "In the fight against COVID-19, which affects the whole world, we have attached great importance to the measures and support that will protect our employees in every field." 

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also celebrated May Day on Twitter with a photo of health workers attached to the tweet.

People detained for May Day rallies in Istanbul released

Meanwhile, all people detained in Istanbul for attempting to hold marches to mark May Day amid the coronavirus lockdown have been released, the Istanbul Governorship said on May 1. 

In a statement, the governorship said permissions were given to confederations and unions that followed social distancing rules.

Earlier in the day, at least 45 people were detained in Istanbul and Ankara for attempting to hold May Day marches despite a three-day curfew enforced on April 30 midnight.

At least 15 people were detained when a group gathered at the central office of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) in Istanbul’s Besiktaş district and attempted to march to Taksim Square despite police warnings.

DİSK head Arzu Çerkezoğlu was also briefly detained before being released.

Another 11 people were detained in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on the Anatolian side for attempting to hold a rally.

Twelve more people, who wanted to march to Taksim Square, were detained in Istanbul's Şişli district.

Meanwhile, members of several labor unions, including those of the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions commemorated victims of a May 1, 1977 massacre by leaving flowers close to Taksim Square. Members of the unions also laid a wreath on Taksim Square. 

May Day, first emerged as an event commemorating the labor of workers worldwide on May 1, 1886, when a group of workers in the US held a massive strike for an eight-hour workday.

Turkey's first official May Day celebrations were held in 1923. 

In 1977, Labor Day demonstrations in Istanbul's Taksim Square left 34 people dead and 136 injured in what became known as Bloody May 1.