Tense May Day in Istanbul

Police use force to disperse May Day demonstrators at Taksim Square, after some 30 members of Turkey's Communist Party launched a blitz to enter the square by leaving a nearby hotel, running. DHA photo
Police use force to disperse May Day demonstrators at Taksim Square, after some 30 members of Turkey's Communist Party launched a blitz to enter the square by leaving a nearby hotel, running. DHA photo

Police in Istanbul have fired tear gas and rubber bullets as protests marked May Day, a traditional time for demonstrations in Turkey’s largest city.

Clashes were reported near Istanbul’s Taksim Square, a rallying point that demonstrations try to reach every year for May Day.

Turkish officials reported that 203 people had been detained and 24 people, including 6 police officers, were injured during the protests in Istanbul proper. Riot police used water cannon on protesters in the Besiktas neighborhood, not far from Taksim.

Turkish police had locked down the city ahead of the protests, as past demonstrations on May 1 have turned confrontational between authorities and protesters.

While mass protests were forbidden, a small group of unionists were allowed into Taksim for a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the May Day 1977, when 34 people were killed in the square.

Taksim was the scene of mass demonstrations in 2013 and 2014, with many protesting what they say were the authoritarian tendencies of then-Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now President, opponents say Erdogan is trying to change the constitution to allow greater powers for the presidency.

Parliamentary elections will be held in June, with Erdogan’s AKP party wanting enough seats to change the  constitution that has governed the country since the 1980’s.

May Day celebrations were seemingly more peaceful elsewhere in Turkey, with most events now having concluded for the day.

Garret Pustay
World News-Politics Contributor

World News-Politics Contributor at The Atlas Times.


Avid follower of international news, with a particular interest on the Middle East. A frequent commuter between New York and the Middle East.


Twitter: @garretpustay


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