Monday, 5 May 2008

Istanbul—May Day

Cem Uzun reports from Istanbul on the May Day protest:

Police used more than 1500 tear gas bombs and attacked marchers with batons and water cannon, arresting and beating hundreds of people to prevent the three main Turkish trade union federations, along with the Turk-IS, DISK and KESK left groups marching to Taksim Square in Istanbul.

Tear gas was fired into the Istanbul headquarters building of DISK and also into the accident and emergency department of a nearby hospital.

Taksim Square has been closed to the trade unions since the massacre of May Day 1977 in which 34 died after police opened fire from rooftops surrounding the square.

The three federations along with some 80 other organisations, had called for the square to be reopened to the May Day demonstration. The response of the governor of Istanbul, backed by the government, was to use extreme force.

The head of the Turkish Medical Association, Gencay Gursoy, issued a statement condemning the tear gassing of the hospital. Police raided his house at 5am the following morning and arrested the 70 year old doctor, allegedly for the contents of an article he wrote in the association's journal four years ago.

An internet petition calling for the resignation of the Governor of Istanbul collected 21,500 signatures in 48 hours.

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