dozens of arrests in Istanbul during May Day rallies

dozens of arrests in Istanbul during May Day rallies
dozens of arrests in Istanbul during May Day rallies

By Le Figaro with AFP

Published
1 hour ago,

Update 1 hour ago

Dozens of protesters were arrested in Istanbul.
KEMAL ASLAN / AFP

The first altercations broke out as demonstrators tried to break through police barriers to reach the emblematic Taksim Square, the epicenter of the protests in the heart of the Turkish megalopolis.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Istanbul to celebrate May 1 were arrested on Wednesday by the police, AFP journalists noted. The first altercations broke out as demonstrators tried to break through police barriers to reach the emblematic Taksim Square, the epicenter of the protests in the heart of the Turkish megalopolis. Istanbul was placed under siege by security forces who blocked the heart of Turkey’s main city.

A police roadblock in Istanbul.
Dilara Senkaya / REUTERS

More than 42,000 police officers have been deployed in the megacity, the Minister of the Interior, Ali Yerlikaya, warned on Tuesday, denouncing in advance the “terrorist organizations (which want) to make May 1 a field of action and propaganda”. From the banks of the Bosphorus to the historic Sultanhamet peninsula and the Topkapi Palace, metal barriers block all passage, public transport, including ferries, is at a standstill, trapping distraught tourists who drag their suitcases under a gloomy sky.

Incidents with the police

From the beginning of the morning, while demonstrators gathered in the Besiktas district to celebrate May 1, incidents broke out with the police and several dozen people were unceremoniously taken away in police vans. Another rally, called in front of the Istanbul municipality by opposition mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and his party, the CHP, was also prevented from moving forward.

Speaking alongside the mayor, largely re-elected on March 31, the president of the CHP, the leading opposition in parliament, Özgür Özel promised to “Do not abandon” : “We will continue our efforts until Taksim is free”. “Taksim belongs to the workers”he declared, then addressing the police: “These workers are not your enemies. Our only wish is that this day is celebrated as a holiday. We don’t want conflict.”.

Gatherings are no longer authorized in Taksim Square, which has become the epicenter of the challenge to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power since the wave of protests that shook the country in 2013. But trade union and political organizations regularly call on their members to converge there. Tuesday evening, the head of state denounced “terrorist organizations who want to make May 1 a propaganda tool” and warned unions and political parties against “any action that would harm the atmosphere of May 1”.

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