Turkish police, protesters clash in May Day demos
Turkish police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse May Day protesters in Turkey’s western port city of Istanbul.
The clashes erupted in the Besiktas district of Istanbul on Friday. The protesters were reportedly heading for the Taksim Square when police blocked their way.
As many as 10,000 police officers were around Taksim Square which has been blocked by the government as it is a symbol of anti-government rallies.
The demonstrators, in return, threw stones and hurled firecrackers at the police.
According to Turkish media, some 20,000 police, backed up by 62 water cannon trucks, have been deployed in Istanbul to maintain security.
May 1 clashes are also expected elsewhere in the country.
The demonstrations are in line with protests across the world where tens of thousands of labor activists cry out to defend their rights.
The police on Friday shut roads to the center of the city, severely restricting public transport and blocking all vehicle access to Taksim Square.
Opposition parties and some unions announced that they were determined to march to the 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 police greater powers against protesters.
May Day in Turkey 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.