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.”
Repeating his call to avert further bloodshed and keep the peace process on track, Ocalan said his hopes of a solution had been boosted.
Istanbul prosecutor presents indictment to a court over fatal elevator accident in Istanbul.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calls for support for the Free Syrian Army fighting ISIL
The Minister of Family and Social Policies is working to eliminate obstacles that disabled face in getting a job
Prime Minister Davutoglu explains use of new powers will be monitored by a parliamentary rights watchdog
Doctors are monitoring the condition of those returned from the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year as respiratory virus claims one life and hospitalizes two more in Turkey
Turkey government budget forecast expects 94.4 billion Turkish lira from the special consumption tax in the coming year
"We are taking the same measures as Europe and the U.S. regarding security," says Erdogan, defending the introduction of a bill to extend police powers.
The natural gas pipeline, which may be used by Bulgaria and Greece, will be built by BOTAS, in the northwestern Turkish city of Corlu
The recent successes of young Turkish women in winning major international science awards has turned the spotlight on technology and education in the country.
Suspects allegedly eavesdropped on politicians, journalists, lawyers and military officers while working for an illegal organization
Turkey's allowing peshmerga to cross into Syria to fight against ISIL militants in Kobani is extensively covered by Turkish dailies Tuesday
EU Commission releases its first report on the progress Turkey has made towards lifting visa obligations for Turkish citizens
Series of deaths come amid pro-Kurdish protests around country
Press TV journalist dies after her car crashed into a construction vehicle near the border
Turkish Foreign Minister said that Turkey was facilitating the passage of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to Kobani to aid Syrian Kurds