May Day celebrations were held throughout Turkey yesterday, as workers, public servants, students, feminists, artists and even football fans came out to commemorate Labour Day in Istanbul's Taksim Square, Ankara's Tandoğan Square, Izmir's Konak and Diyarbakır's Station Square.
Yesterday marked the third year in a row that Labour Day celebrations were held in Taksim Square after a 32-year ban on May 1st demonstrations following the 1977 'Bloody May Day' which ended with 34 deaths. Thousands participated in yesterday's celebrations for May 1st Labour and Solidarity Day as bands played, ballads were sung and people danced arm in arm.
MONUMENTS PROTECTED, SECURITY IN PLACE...
Preparations for the day's celebrations were extensive however as police barricaded off Taksi Square and the bomb squad searched the Republic Monument, Taksim Gezi Park as well as Tarlabaşı Boulevard. Bomb squads repeatedly conducted searches accompanied by dogs throughout the day. The giant platform put up in front of the Atatürk Cultural Center last year was moved this year to the front of The Marmara Hotel. The Republic Monument was protected by steel barriers and a huge 800 square-meter banner, which read 'Try the Perpetrators from May 1st 1977'. The reason behind the protective measures was an attack staged by terrorist organization sympathizers on the historical monument.
WINDOWS BROKEN IN ŞİŞLİ
Access was provided to Taksim Square from three avenues yesterday, Beşiktaş, Şişli and Tarlabaşı. People were searched by x-ray at control points prior to being allowed entry into the square. A number of organizations including DİSK (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions), Enerji-Sen, Spor Emek-Sen, Oyuncular Sendikası (Actors Union), Devrimci 1 Mayıs Platformu, Sendikal Güçbirliği Platform, gathered in front of the DİSK Headquarters on Halaskargazi Street. A band accompanied the group, which established a cortege carrying signs and marching to Taksim Square. DİSK Chairman Erol Ekici, CHP Istanbul Deputy Süleyman Çelebi and Şişli Municipal Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül also took place in the march.
The Turkish Medical Association also staged a demonstration for May Day. Carrying signs that read 'An end to violence in health care' as they marched from the Dolmabahçe Street-Gümüşsuyu route to arrive in Taksim Square. At the same time, another group who called themselves 'Anarchists' smashed in windows of certain business locations along Cumhuriyet and Halaskargazi Street as well as tore apart a hotel's security camera.
'THE MURDERERS WILL BE MADE TO PAY'
Once the cortege reached Taksim Square, the group including DİSK Chairman Erol Ekici, KESK Chairman Lami Özgen, DSP Chairman Masum Türker, attorney Eşber Yağmurdereli as well as members of a variety of unions, all held a moment of silence for the lives lost on May 1st, 1977 on Kazancı Yokuşu.
During an address, DİSK Chairman Ekici expressed how proud he was that previously prohibited demonstrations in Taksim Square have now been opened up to celebrate Labour's Day and the stage set to honor labourers rights. "From here on out, we will continue to seek out the murderers of our comrades in 1977, 1986 and 1996."
At 14:00, an announcement was made for the 'world's biggest chorus of workers and laborers'. After a 15-second moment of silence, participants form 101 points throughout Turkey, simultaneously began chanting "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism". Later, the words "Long live May 1st" were stated in 21 different language followed by the reading of the names of every individual killed on May Day in 1977. Participants responded to the calling out of each name by stating 'Here'. Later, the Ruhi Su Dostlar Chorus took the stage to perform the May 1st march.
OTHER NOTES FROM THIS YEAR'S MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS...
This year certain police officers donned helmet cameras that had 3G support. Each camera costs 20,000 dollars and provides high resolution footage that can be surveyed from MOBESE stations.
20,000 police officers were on duty for May Day celebrations, while a 30-vehicle military convoy was positioned at the Harbiye Military Museum.
In order to prevent demonstrators from climbing up poles, they were oiled down and all glass was removed from bus stops.
This year for the first time, stores on İstiklal Street remained open.
During the celebrations, the funicular between Beşiktaş and Taksim as well as the Taksim metro were closed.
A total 293 personnel and 62 vehicles from the Beyoğlu Municipality cleaned the vicinity.
Hundreds of portable toilets were brought in on lorries.