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The day before May Day

Unions, including the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) had renewed their request, underlining that the measure was incompatible with previous decisions ruled by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ensuring freedom of assembly.


More than 60 organisations including labor unions and political parties intent on defying a government-imposed ban on celebrating May 1, in İstanbul’s iconic Taksim Square have expressed their determination to rally in Taksim on Thursday. The May Day Committee made a statement on Wednesday in which they reiterated their earlier resolve to be in Taksim on May Day. “We will be in Taksim despite the irrational and illegal ban,” said Kani Beko, President of DİSK, who spoke on behalf of the committee.

Beko accused the government of being inconsistent, as it was the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government which made May Day an official holiday and lifted the Taksim ban in 2010. He said that the committee had tried to keep the lines of communication with the government open, but “the only response we’ve gotten was an army of police being dispatched to Taksim on April 21.”

On April 21, May Day Committee members attempted to read out a press statement in Taksim. However, their effort was interrupted by police intervention. Several union leaders were detained.

Recalling that last year, the municipality suspended public transport to stop people from getting to Taksim, Beko said that such practices are illogical and unreasonable. He said the May Day Committee had tried to schedule an appointment with President Abdullah Gül, who turned them down saying he was busy. President of DİSK said the committee was preparing to celebrate a holiday and accused the police force of preparing for war. Beko reiterated that it is important for the unions to commemorate the victims of Bloody May Day.

The heart of May Day celebrations has always been İstanbul’s busy Taksim Square. On May Day in 1977, also known as Bloody May Day, 37 people were killed when assailants opened fire on the crowd.

The government decided to make May Day an official holiday and opened up Taksim Square for celebrations, beginning in 2010. But last year, the government announced that it would not allow celebrations in Taksim Square due to construction going on there at the time. It has been prohibited again this year, with government officials simply saying that “Taksim is not a place for celebrations.”

Governor later said that the ferry stations will be closed on May Day. Beko, responding to his claim of possible provocation said, “As long as the police don’t intervene, nobody will get hurt.” A total of 39,000 police officers will be on duty in and around Taksim.

DİSK and KESK members will meet in Şişli early hours of the day…

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May Day 2013 ETUC/DİSK Block

May Day 2013 ETUC/DİSK Block