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Turkish police arrest more than 200 people after clashes with May Day protesters – Journal

Turkish police arrest more than 200 people after clashes with May Day protesters – Journal


ISTANBUL: Turkish police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Wednesday and arrested more than 200 protesters after authorities banned May Day rallies in Istanbul's historic Taksim Square.

More than 40,000 police officers were deployed across Istanbul, blocking even small side streets with metal barriers to try to prevent protesters from gathering.

Police clashed with demonstrators near city hall in the Sarachane district, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent demonstrators from crossing the barricades, AFP journalists noted.

210 people were arrested in Istanbul after they ignored our warnings and tried to march to Taksim Square and attack our police officers on May 1, Labor and Solidarity Day, the minister published of the Interior Ali Yerlikaya on X, formerly Twitter.

Tall metal barriers have been erected around the square, where authorities have banned gatherings since 2013, when it was the center of protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

We demonstrated our willingness to celebrate May 1 on Taksim Square. We have legal bases, said Arzu Cerkezoglu, general secretary of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK).

Taksim is an important symbol for us. Taksim means May 1, Taksim means work, she said.

In 2023, Turkey's highest constitutional court ruled that closing Taksim Square for protests constituted a rights violation.

The square was a rallying place for May Day celebrations until 1977, when at least 34 people were killed during protests. Authorities reopened it in 2010, but it was closed again after protests in 2013.

In Besiktas district, police arrested at least 30 left-wing protesters who were shouting that Taksim cannot be banned, an AFP journalist reported.

One protester was dragged to the ground by police and his group was arrested.

Thirty other people were arrested in Sisli district.

Rights group MLSA said several journalists were pushed to the ground during the unrest.

Taksim belongs to the workers

Istanbul's main roads were closed to traffic while public transport, including ferries and metros, was disrupted due to security measures. Landmarks such as Topkapi Palace have been sealed off.

On Monday, Yerlikaya said Taksim would be banned from gatherings to prevent terrorist organizations from using it for propaganda purposes.

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and unions had pressed the government to open the square to workers' rallies, but Erdogan warned on Tuesday against any provocation.

CHP leader Ozgur Ozel, accompanied by Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and unions, gathered in the Sarachane district. We will continue to fight until Taksim is free, Ozel said. Taksim belongs to the workers.

Addressing the police, Ozel said: These workers are not your enemies.

Published in Dawn, May 2, 2024




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