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19:31, 19 February 2017 Sunday
13:22, 30 April 2014 Wednesday

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Turkish unions defy Taksim rally ban on May Day
Turkish unions defy Taksim rally ban on May Day

Turkey's biggest unions declared their determination to hold a May Day rally at Istanbul's Taksim Square, saying, "If police and the government do not interfere in [celebrations] and aggravate [union groups], we can guarantee a peaceful rally."

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey’s major unions continued to insist on holding May Day rallies at Istanbul’s Taksim Square, despite the government’s refusal to permit any such gatherings.

"We will be at Taksim to oppose an irrational and unlawful ban," Kani Beko, chairman of Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), said in a press conference held in Istanbul on Wednesday, which started with "Long Live May Day" slogans.

Lami Ozgen, Chairman of Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) along with Mehmet Soganci, President of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and Osman Ozturk, a member of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), stood with DISK chairman Beko at the press conference.

Beko criticized the ruling AK Party's approach to May Day by saying, "The prohibitive stance of AK Party, which hung banners in 2010 which read 'May Day is both a festival and in Taksim square,' is inconsistent and incoherent."

Referring to a November 2012 decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which said that the ban on protests in Taksim by the Turkish government was a violation of Article 11 on freedom of assembly, Beko said, "It is unlawful not to comply with the court's decision about the subject and to ignore even the decision of the international court."

Beko recalled that previous May Day celebrations held in Taksim went peacefully.

"Nobody was harmed during the May Day celebrations held in Taksim in 2010, 2011 and 2012," Beko said. "If police and the government do not interfere in [celebrations] and aggravate [the groups], we can guarantee these celebrations will be like those celebrations in 1976, 2010, 2011 and 2012."

On May 1, 1977, while some 500,000 people gathered in Taksim Square to celebrate Labor Day, unidentified gunmen fired on the peaceful crowd. Thirty-six people died in the riots and fighting that followed. Taksim Square remained closed to Labor Day demonstrations between 1977 and 2010.

Istanbul governor's office said Taksim Square will not be open to May Day demonstrations due to intelligence reports which indicate that “illegal terrorist organizations” will provoke violence against security forces.

"Security forces seized two Kalashnikov guns in recent operations. There is a risk of long-barreled weapons. We are charged with securing lives and property," added the statement.

Yenikapi was officially designated as a demonstration area for May Day. Istanbul Governorship has offered 300 buses free of charge for participants to reach Yenikapi.

DISK chairman Beko asserted that "declaring a state of siege across the city [Istanbul], blocking the transportation and punishing 15 million people living in Istanbul by saying 'if workers go out , the city life will be affected negatively,' is irrational."

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled out an appeal from a Turkish citizen which would have allowed May Day celebrations at Taksim Square. The court’s justification for the decision is that "domestic remedies were not exhausted.”

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Press agenda on February 19
Press agenda on February 19

Here are the main topics World Bulletin’s English Desk plans to cover Sunday Feb. 19, 2017 (coverage may change depending on developing/breaking stories): BAGHDAD Iraqi forces launch an offensive on jihadists defending Mosul's west bank, in what could be the most brutal fighting yet in a four-month-old operation on the city. 700 words 0530 GMT by Ammar Karim and Jean-Marc Mojon US-militant-Egypt-prison,2ndlead WASHINGTON The sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian-born cleric linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, dies at 78 in a US prison facility after a long battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease. 650 words moved by Maggy Donaldson. File Picture Ukraine-Russia-conflict,WRAP MOSCOW A truce between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine will come into force Monday, Moscow and Kiev say, though some separatists are already labelling it unfeasible. 500 words moved by Anais Llobet Entertainment-film-festival-Germany,WRAP BERLIN Hungary's "On Body and Soul", a love story set in a slaughterhouse, wins the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin film festival, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year. 700 words moved by Deborah Cole. Picture. Video Also moved: Entertainment-film-festival-Germany-prizes,FACTS Entertainment-film-festival-Germany,POINTS Entertainment-film-festival-Germany-winners,CHRONO -- ASIA -- NKorea-Malaysia-diplomacy-community,SCENE KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia's only North Korean restaurant promises a glimpse into life in the reclusive state but it has been shuttered since news broke of the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Un's brother, with security guards turning customers away. 650 words 0600 GMT by Elizabeth Law. Picture. Video -- AMERICAS -- US-politics-Trump-Melania,lead MELBOURNE, Florida First Lady Melania Trump, usually a demure and soft-spoken presence at her husband's side, breaks with form, reciting the Lord's Prayer before issuing a scathing rebuke of his enemies and her critics at a campaign-style stop in Florida. 600 words moved by Michael Mathes with Stephanie Griffith in Washington. Picture. Video. US-media-politics-technology WASHINGTON As President Donald Trump warns of a crackdown on US government leaks to media, interest is growing in technology tools that allow sources to share information anonymously. 750 words moved by Rob Lever Venezuela-politics-opposition-US CARACAS Venezuela and the United States lock horns again over political prisoners held by Caracas, including over the detention of a jailed opposition leader whose supporters took to the streets of the capital to demand his release.