Turkish authorities crack down on May Day protests, dozens detained

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Union members clash with Turkish anti-riot police officers as they march during Labor Day celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP)

ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 1: In a scene of tension and clashes, Turkish riot police resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter May Day demonstrators attempting to reach Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square on Wednesday. Reports from Turkish media indicate that numerous protesters were detained amid the skirmishes.

The actions come following President Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration on the eve of May Day that Taksim Square, fortified by law enforcement, would not be accessible for the customary protests. Despite the ban issued by the Istanbul Governor’s office, opposition leader Ozgur Ozel of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) had called for the rally to proceed in the square.

The day saw workers and labor union members congregating in the Sarachane neighborhood early morning, intending to march toward Taksim Square to voice their grievances against surging inflation and economic adversity. However, their path was met with significant resistance.

Authorities took extensive measures, including deploying snipers atop the historic Valens Aqueduct in Sarachane and setting up a blockade with water cannon vehicles and numerous police officers, effectively sealing off all routes leading to the square, as depicted in Reuters footage.

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