Turkey

People held for May Day rallies in Istanbul released

45 people arrested in Istanbul, Ankara for attempting to hold May Day marches despite curfew

Halil Demir, Hasan Huseyin Kulaoglu   | 01.05.2020
People held for May Day rallies in Istanbul released

ISTANBUL/ANKARA

All people arrested in Istanbul for attempting to hold marches to mark May Day amid the coronavirus lockdown have been released, the Istanbul Governorship said on Friday. 

In a statement, the governorship said permissions were given to confederations and unions that followed social distancing rules. 

Earlier in the day, at least 45 people were arrested in Istanbul and Ankara for attempting to hold May Day marches despite a three-day curfew enforced at Thursday midnight. 

At least 15 people were arrested when a group gathered at the central office of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK) in Istanbul’s Besiktas district and attempted to march to Taksim Square despite police warnings. 

DISK head Arzu Cerkezoglu was also briefly detained before being released. 

Another 11 people were arrested in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district on the Anatolian side for attempting to hold a rally. 

Twelve more people, who wanted to march to Taksim Square, were arrested in Istanbul's Sisli district. 

Seven people were arrested in the capital Ankara. 

Turkey has imposed a three-day curfew in 31 provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara, to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has claimed 3,174 lives in the country so far. 

The Istanbul Police Department said a total of 44,756 personnel were on duty as part of measures to prevent rallies amid the curfew. 

Meanwhile, members of several labor unions, including those of the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, commemorated victims of a May 1, 1977 massacre by leaving flowers close to Taksim Square.

Members of the unions also laid a wreath at Taksim Square. 

May Day first emerged as an event commemorating the labor of workers worldwide on May 1, 1886, when a group of workers in the US held a massive strike for an eight-hour workday. 

Turkey’s first official May Day celebrations were held in 1923. 

In 1977, Labor Day demonstrations in Istanbul's Taksim Square left 34 people dead and 136 injured in what became known as Bloody May 1.

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