May Day marked with defiant rallies for worker rights

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 13, 2017

Dozens were detained by police in Istanbul on Monday after clashes broke out between demonstrators and authorities during May Day protests in the Turkish metropolis, a report said.

Turkish police arrested dozens as anti-government protesters tried to breach a ban on access to the main Taksim Square in Istanbul to mark May Day. They unfurled anti-government banners reading "Long Live May Day, No to the dictator!", alluding to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's expanded executive powers that resulted from an April 16 referendum.

"Our people were massacred on May Day in 1977, workers were massacred", a protester who gave her name as Sevim told AFP.

About 70 people were separately detained in the city's Besiktas district.

"A total of 165 people have been detained", Istanbul police said in a statement, adding that the individuals were mostly taken into custody for marching without a permit and carrying banners and posters.The police said another 18 people, suspected to have been planning to provoke clashes, were detained in raids across four separate Istanbul districts.

Celebrations were held across Turkey to mark May Day under strict security measures due to a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, while the symbolic venue of such celebrations, İstanbul's Taksim Square, remained closed to festivities.

Police detained two women who attempted to unfurl banners at the square, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Some 30,000 police were on duty in Istanbul alone, with the governor's office urging citizens not to heed calls for protests in non-official areas. Consequently, Taksim Square was entirely cordoned off well beforehand on Sunday, and numerous riot and plain clothes police officers had been deployed to the area.

The square was reopened for celebrations in the late 2000s but was shut again in 2013.

This year's May Day celebrations also come after the "Yes" camp won last month's referendum with 51.41 percent of the vote against 48.59 percent for the "No" camp.

Yunus Ozgur, another demonstrator, said he wanted to march to Taksim square to protest "irregularities" during the referendum. They (authorities) are scared of this.

People also gathered in front of the capital's main train station to remember the more than 100 people who died in a twin-bomb attack in 2015, the bloodiest in Turkish history.

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