• Sunday, 16 June 2024

Turkish police use tear gas to quash Workers' Day march in Istanbul

Turkish police use tear gas to quash Workers' Day march in Istanbul

Istanbul, 1 May 2024 (dpa/MIA) - Turkish police used tear gas on protestors to prevent an International Workers' Day march to the symbolically important Taksim Square in the metropolis of Istanbul on Wednesday.

Footage from CNN Türk showed the police action. There were also scuffles between demonstrators and police.

Security forces in several rows blocked the route from the Sarachane district to Taksim Square, several kilometres away. More than 70 people were detained, according to media reports.

The authorities had issued a ban on demonstrations in the square and cordoned off a large area of the centre, saying it was needed for security reasons.

Amnesty International called this justification "flimsy" and called for the ban to be lifted, referring to a judgement by the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court ruled at the end of last year that a ban on demonstrations on Taksim Square violated the right to peaceful assembly.

Opposition leader Özgür Özel described the ban as shameful and pointed out that the judgements of the Constitutional Court were binding.

Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul is symbolically important for trade unions and the opposition. On May 1, 1977, trade unionists wanted to hold a rally there to commemorate International Workers' Day when snipers shot at a demonstration attended by about 500,000 in the square, killing numerous people.

The square has also become a symbol for government opponents because the anti-government Gezi protests started there in 2013. The protests were initially directed against the development of Gezi Park, which is located next to Taksim Square. They grew into nationwide demonstrations against the then prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

He had the protests crushed. Anti-government gatherings on Taksim Square have been banned ever since.

MIA file photo