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Police put Istanbul under tight security on May Day

1 May 2015 12:44

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Turkish police have taken extraordinary security measures in the city of Istanbul to prevent unauthorized May Day demonstrations.

The police on Friday shut roads to the center of the city, severely restricting public transport and blocking all vehicle access to Taksim square, the focal point of anti-government rallies.

The city’s main metro line has been stopped before Taksim while services on the city tram service are also halted halfway.

Meanwhile, iron barriers have been erected on the square upon an order by local officials to block even the pedestrian access.

According to Turkish media, some 20,000 police, backed up by 62 water cannon trucks, have been deployed in Istanbul to impose security.

A heavy police deployment has also been put in place in the capital Ankara.

Hundreds of people and a large group of reporters wait under tight police control at Istanbul’s Beşiktaş square on May 1, 2015.

Opposition parties and some unions announced that they were determined to march to the Taksim square, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has underlined that only “symbolic” rallies would be allowed.

The tight security situation comes as Turkey’s parliament has recently approved a security law to give the police greater powers against protesters.

The Hurriyet Daily reported on Friday that the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a group of protesters who started to march from Istanbul’s Beşiktaş square toward Taksim square.

According to the report, police also detained two women at Taksim square when they attempted to unfurl a banner.

Five people who were in possession of gas masks and marbles were also detained in the Okmeydanı neighborhood.

May Day marks a bloody violence on May 1, 1977, during which unknown gunmen opened fire on a peaceful crowd, killing dozens of people in Taksim square.

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