Turkish deputy PM says police won't tolerate Taksim protests

Photo: Turkish deputy PM says police won't tolerate Taksim protests / Turkey

Some of Turkey's biggest unions continue to insist on holding the May Day rally at Istanbul's Taksim Square despite government's refusal to permit any gatherings at the site on the day, Anadolu agency reported.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday that the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party would only allow a limited number of representatives from unions to place wreaths or make press statements at Istanbul's Taksim Square on Workers Day, May 1, adding that some unions were "attempting to provoke violence" with their planned protests.

Two other squares instead of Taksim Square have been allocated by the Istanbul governorate for Workers Day celebration rallies Arinc pointed out.

"Taksim Square is the May Day square," declared unions, adding that they and their members will be at the site on 1 May. The unions including the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK) and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) wanted to hold a press conference at Gezi Park but faced with police intervention. Secuirty forces called on DISK's members to make their declaration at the Istiklal Street instead of the park. Later on, police dispersed union members who wanted to march at Gezi Park.

At least one DISK member was injured and nine people were detained when the police intervened with the use of tear gas and water cannons against the protestors.
Beko urged the release of detainees in his statement after the clashes and reiterated their will to celebrate May Day in Taksim Square.

"The address of the May Day rally is Taksim," Kani Beko, Chairman of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), declared at a regional meeting of the union on Monday. Beko said that the rally was held peacefully in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and recalled that the government last year disallowed access toTaksim due to extensive construction work at the site.

"But when we inspected the site, we determined that there was no problem for the May Day rally," Beko said.

The unions, including DISK, TURK-IS (Turkey Workers Union) and KESK (Confederation of Public Workers' Union) had insisted on marching at Taksim Square but were stopped by security forces last year.

The chairman stated that the union is not against other squares for gatherings but pointed out that, "We have to hold 1 May rally at Taksim due to the 1977 incident." 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 protests after 1977 incident until 2010.

DISK Chairman also said the European Court of Human Rights' ruling and Turkish Constitution recognize the right to assembly. "If the authorities will not let us, then that is a violation of the constitution and the court's rulings," he added.

DISK and KESK claim to have the backing of a November 2012 decision by the European Court of Human Rights which said that "there has been a violation of Article 11" on freedom of assembly by the Turkish government over the case.

Two of Turkey's biggest unions, DISK and KESK declared their intentions on Monday to gather at Taksim and urged the authorities to clear the way for that rally. After the meeting, Mutlu said the unions can hold the rally at Yenikapi which the government designated as a place for such gatherings. Following the governor's remarks, the Interior Minister Efkan Ala reiterated that the government will not let the unions march at Taksim, a stance taken also by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who also rejected the plan for Taksim.

Also speaking at Taksim, Gursel Tekin, vice-chairman of Republican People's Party (CHP) said he was in the square for moral support and CHP will be in Taksimon May Day.

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