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Türkiye: Police use tear gas to prevent May march in Istanbul

Türkiye: Police use tear gas to prevent May march in Istanbul

Tear gas, scuffles with the police and arrests – in Istanbul police officers prevent a march to Taksim Square to mark May Day. Demonstrations are forbidden there – the place has symbolic power.

The Turkish police prevented a May Day protest march to the symbolically important Taksim Square in the metropolis of Istanbul.

They used tear gas against protesters, as footage from CNN Türk showed. There were also scuffles between demonstrators and police. Several rows of security forces blocked the path from the Sarachane district to Taksim Square, several kilometers away. According to media reports, more than 70 people were arrested.

The authorities had issued a ban on demonstrations in Taksim Square and cordoned off a large area of ​​the center. They justified this, among other things, with security concerns. Amnesty International called this justification “flimsy” and called for the ban to be lifted, citing a ruling by the Constitutional Court.

Taksim Square is a symbolic place

At the end of last year, the Constitutional Court ruled that a ban on demonstrations in Taksim Square violated the right to peaceful assembly. Opposition leader Özgür Özel called the ban shameful and pointed out that the Constitutional Court’s rulings are binding.

Taksim Square in the center of Istanbul is symbolically important for trade unions and the opposition: trade unionists want to commemorate May 1, 1977 with a meeting there. At that time, snipers shot at a demonstration in Taksim Square with around 500,000 participants and killed numerous people.

The square has also become a symbol for government opponents because the anti-government Gezi protests began there in 2013. The protests were initially directed against the development of Gezi Park, which is located next to Taksim Square. They expanded into nationwide demonstrations against the then Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He had the protests suppressed. Since then, gatherings critical of the government in Taksim Square are no longer permitted.

Source: Stern

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