Turkish unions demand access to Taksim Square on May 1

Photo: Turkish unions demand access to Taksim Square on May 1 / Turkey

Some of Turkey's biggest workers' unions are demanding access to Taksim Square on May 1 Labor Day to honour the 36 people who died in 1977 when an unknown gunmen opened fire, causing a stampede at a May Day rally in the square Anadolu Agency reported.

The site was declared off-limits for 1st May celebrations until 2010. Last year, due to extensive construction work at the site, the Turkish government did not permit the rally to take place; unions insisted on marching to the site but were stopped by the security forces. The unions are facing a potential ban by the authorities again this year.

The unions say they will defy any ban and chairman of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), Kani Beko, called the square a "sacred place".

Beko said that "the construction work is finished there and authorities have no excuse to deny them access to this site", adding that so far they have not received a response to a request to meet Istanbul provincial governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu.

Attending a police banquet on Thursday night, Mutlu said he did not receive any formal request for the rally. "If I receive formal request, I can look at it," he told press members.

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