Turkish people celebrate International Labor Day

13:42, May 02, 2011      

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The Turkish people from all walks of life celebrated the May 1 International Labor Day, with hundreds of thousands rallying in major squares in different cities.

The biggest celebration was held in Istanbul, with over 100,000 people filling the Taksim square, holding up signs read "May 1 for labor peace, freedom and democracy," and "long live May 1," and shouting slogans. Bands gave free concerts to the people.

Members of the four major union confederations and several left- wing political parties, including thousands from the Kurdish political party, had gathered in different parts of the city to march towards the Taksim square. The sight contrasted the violence used to plague the Taksim May 1 celebrations in the past.

During the 1977 celebrations, shots were fired from the roof of a nearby hotel, which and the following chaos claimed as many as 34 lives, prompting the government to ban May 1 celebrations in Taksim for the next three decades. From 1978 until 2010, unions rallied at the square would clash with the police trying to prevent them. The ban was lifted last year, and the Taksim square has become a place of revelry, where people dance and sing songs.

One of the major themes of this year's celebration was to commemorate those died in 1977, with many people giving speeches about the victims and calling for moments of silence.

The square showed the same appearance as in 1977, with the stage facing the south side and a giant poster of a worker breaking off his chains hanging from the Ataturk Cultural Center, where it hadn't been allowed since 1977.

Another giant banner hung from the west side of the square, featuring a flag-bearing worker and reading "The working class is the one that will change the world, its tool is Marxism."

Revolutionary Worker's Unions Confederation (DISK) Deputy Chairman Ismail Yurtsever, addressing the rally, said his organization hoped the success of the event would facilitate the realization of the workers' demands.

However, during the much smaller rally in Turkish capital of Ankara, clashes erupted between the left-leaning pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the nationalist Education Workers Union (Egitim-sen). The police had to broke the two sides up in the Sihhiye square.

In Izmir, tens of thousands of people gathered in the Gundogdu square where 4,000 police were on hand to ensure the security. As the stronghold of the main opposition party, Izmir's rally featured a vocal anti-governing party atmosphere, with participants shouting anti-Justice and Development Party (AKP) slogans. The Izmir rally ended peacefully.

On Sunday morning, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan released a message wishing everyone a happy May 1, saying the republic was heading towards its 100th anniversary with an understanding of peace and calm and brotherhood and rule of law.

"We have always been on the side of the workers," the message read, adding "I believe that the May 1 from now on will be celebrated in friendship and solidarity in a manner befitting labor day."

Source: Xinhua
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