Turkish President Gul urges common sense on May Day
In a message apparently aimed at addressing ongoing tension between the police and demonstrators, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he hoped "lessons would be learned" by all Huhurriyet daily news reported
"It is our genuine wish that May 1, which in the past came onto the agenda with bitter and saddening memories and undesirable images, takes its place in memories as a holiday that strengthens labor peace and societal peace, with the required lessons having been learned," he said, in a message released on a day when thousands of protesters clashed with police over the ban on gathering at Istanbul's highly symbolic Taksim Square.
The president also expressed confidence that problems would be "resolved within the framework of mutual understanding, dialogue, and conciliation and with contributions and support from all parties."
The government's insistence on closing Taksim Square is widely considered to be a reflection of its deep uneasiness with the fact that last year's May Day in Istanbul, which was scene to violent protests between police and protesters, was followed weeks later by the Gezi Park unrest that snowballed into one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule.
The remarkable unrest, during which six protesters and a police officer lost their lives and more than 8,000 people were injured, began as a peaceful sit-in protest in late May against the destroying of trees in Istanbul's central Gezi Park, next to Taksim Square. Upon the police's fierce intervention against the protesters at the park, protests spread across the entire country in the form of anti-government demonstrations and civil disobedience acts.