Labour Day in Taksim: More than 200,000

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Once a place that Turkish authorities locked up for May Day celebrations of last years, more than 200.000 people gathered Saturday in Taksim Square and celebrated the day by dancing and chanting.

Workers organizations, political parties and some other groups gathered in the square as they met early in the morning and marched towards the square from Beşiktaş- Dolmabahçe, Unkapanı-Şişhane and Şişli-Mecidiyeköy.

Tekel workers was leading the cortege of Türk-İş labor confederation, after weeks long struggle in Ankara for their rights that they would lose after the privatization of the state monopoly for alcohol and tobacco.

“We are here to support my son-in-law,” said Bahri Bayat, who was marching towards Taksim with other workers in Tek Gıda İş trade union cortege, which is the organization for Tekel workers. Himself as a former Tekel worker as well, retired Bayat said “Tekel struggle taught solidarity and how sacred labor was to Turkey. It also taught poverty,” he said. His son-in-law has two children. Laife Bayat, wife of Bahri Bayat was in the march as well, with a hat of the union she wore over her headscarf. “This is struggle for bread,” Laife said, who was originally from Bitlis, but in Istanbul for 22 years.


After 32 years passed over the bloody May Day workers celebrated the day in Taksim, which has a significant symbolic meaning for many. In 1977, the events in May Day celebration in Taksim killed more than 30 people and the square closed down to May Days after 1978.

“Your murders, your September 12 cannot deter us. We are here after 33 years,” read one of the banners the crowd carried.

In 1977, around 500.000 people gathered in Taksim Square to celebrate the May Day. During the celebration program fire opened over the crowd and police panzers drove among the crowd causing panic and chaos. Many people died as they messed among the crowd. Kazancı Street was among the most critical places, as it caused many deaths that hundreds of people pushed to run away from the inclined and narrow street. It was alleged that the events were planned by the deep state to lead country towards the September 12 military coup.

Meanwhile, many people passed over the barriers surrounding the Republic Monument in the square and climbed over the sculpture. They hold banners and flags and chanted slogans, while they also took pictures of each other at top of the monument.

Some workers from Tekel, İstanbul’s water and sewage institution İSKİ and some fire brigade officials protested Mustafa Kumlu, the head of Türk İş when he got the stage for his speech. He could not make the speech, as he was brought to Atatürk Culture Center, or AKM behind to have shelter from stones thrown to him. Some windows of AKM were broken. No one made a speech from the stage for a while. The crowd also started to disperse at that time, around 02.00 pm.

Emek Dünyası


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