Once again the May Day celebrations -the working class' day of unity, struggle and solidarity- in Taksim Square in İstanbul - was banned for millions of workers by the right wing AKP (Justice and Development Party) government, even after the large peaceful celebrations in the last two years in the same square. Moreover, as declared by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Labour Minister Faruk Çelik, this ban on May Day celebrations in Taksim Square is not only for this year but also for the coming years.
“Law of war” for the citizens
Tens of thousands of people in İstanbul gathered in different parts of the city near to Taksim Square and wanted to march to the square in the early morning hours. But, at this point, all of the streets leading to Taksim Square were blockaded by police forces. Police used tear gas, pepper gas, in some places firing plastic bullets while police helicopters were flying over the heads of the protesters during the struggle. According to the media, the use of plastic bullets and tear gas was at a record level over recent years.
Many places in the city center near Taksim Square turned into a front line in the struggle against the government’s ban on the celebrations. The cruel attacks by the police without any legal ground was experienced in many resistance areas around Taksim Square.
Struggle in every corner of the city
Despite the all obstacles, communists took their places at the demonstrations and started to rally in the morning hours from Besiktas to Taksim Square. On the other hand, many comrades coming from the Asian side to participate in the meeting could not reach the gathering place in Besiktas. When the trade unions decided to march, the progressives, socialists and communists who could not reach the gathering point for the march started to celebrate the May Day in places near Taksim Square. At the same time they were struggling with the security forces to eliminate the barricades.
Some of our comrades crossed the police barricades to reach Taksim Square, the symbolic place for May Day Celebrations for many years. Some of our comrades were at the headquarters of the DİSK (Confederation of the Progressive Workers Trade Unions), and were surrounded and subjected to violence by the police forces. All of the comrades at every barricade chanted the slogan “Long live the heroic struggle of the working class!”
Under the repressive conditions created by the AKP government, public transportation from many corners of the city to Taksim and nearby places were halted and our flags, banners and other materials were confiscated without any legal basis by the security forces. The authoritarian AKP government, by blockading blockade all the roads, streets, and avenues on the way to Taksim Square, did not let people celebrate May Day there.
Brutal attacks by the police force during our comrades' attempts to reach the banned May Day celebrations caused injures to some of our comrades. Some of them were hospitalized. Despite all attacks by the police forces, our comrades gathered near the barricades and chanted the communist party anthem and concluded May Day celebrations in the late afternoon.
The use of tons of tear gas, pepper gas and water cannons by the police force was not able to stop the May Day celebrations by tens of thousands of people including workers from many different trade unions, the unemployed, youth, women and professionals in many cities and towns of Turkey. And the struggle of thousands of people near Taksim Square has shown that May Day celebrations in Taksim have a symbolic meaning for the people. The working class of Turkey has once again proved that it will continue to mourn its martyrs buried in Taksim Square every year.
For the Turkish text, click.