Turkish government scared of workers: Main opposition leader
AA PhotoThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is scared of workers, Turkey’s main opposition leader has said, condemning the police crackdown on protesters wanting to celebrate May Day at Taksim Square.
“The government is scared of the worker. I condemn this unfair intervention that is made on May Day, Labor Day,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said.
His comments came as police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber pellets to prevent thousands of people, some armed with Molotov Cocktails and stones, from defying the authorities’ ban on May Day rallies in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square.
In a message released on April 30, Kılıçdaroğlu had stated that people should be able to hold May Day rallies wherever they wanted.
“Whatever you call it, May 1 is an official holiday and celebrating this holiday wherever one wants and however one wants, without giving harm to anybody’s life or property, is the most natural right for all,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in his written message released on the occasion of May Day.
Committing violations of rights had become now a “habit” for the government, the CHP leader added. “The government is primarily targeting the press deliberately, as well as organized society and the organized struggle,” he said.
Taksim Square has a symbolic meaning for Turkey’s labor movement. On May 1, 1977, also known as the “Labor Day Massacre,” 34 people were killed in clashes, after which the square was not allowed to be used as a site for Labor Day demonstrations.
However, the government declared May 1 to be an official holiday in 2009; and in 2010, for the first time in 32 years, thousands of people marched to Taksim Square and demonstrated. No major incidents occurred during the demonstrations in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
But this was not the case in 2013, when access to Taksim Square was blocked by the authorities, citing construction ongoing at the site, which officials said might be dangerous for demonstrators.