GeriGündem Turkish PM rejects May Day in Taksim square
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Turkish PM rejects May Day in Taksim square

Turkish PM rejects May Day in Taksim square
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Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan rejected the unions' demands to celebrate May Day in Istanbul's Taksim Square saying such attempts are likely to be abused by "illegal organizations." The Turkish government is expected to make its final decision on Wednesday. (UPDATED)

Trade unions are among the country's legal organizations and democratic institutions, but it should not be forgotten that these kinds of major celebrations are monitored and abused by "illegal organizations," Erdogan said in his speech at the party's group meeting.

As a result of such misuse legal organizations can also be wounded even they carry good intentions to their trials, Erdogan added. "We are warning everyone against acts and provocations by illegal organizations and I urge everyone not to play into these provocations. Let's celebrate this day in unity and friendship at places designated by the law,"

Erdogan, who met with leaders of three major Turkish trade unions and the Labor Minister Faruk Celik prior to his explanation said, "We had severe May Day experiences in the past, especially, we remember the celebrations in the years 1977 and 1996 with great sorrow because we encountered this provocation."

In 1977 during the May Day celebrations 36 people were killed when still-unidentified gunmen opened fire, a date since referred to as the "Bloody May 1." Turkey has banned any celebrations in Taksim Square since then. Also, three attendants died at May Day celebrations in 1996 which were held in Istanbul's Kadikoy.  

Celik told reporters the unions suggested to hold a commemoration for those killed in 1977 instead of a celebration. He added the government will consider this suggestion and make its final decision on the issue Tuesday.

The union leaders reiterated their determination to hold celebrations in Taksim.  

Last week, Turkey Labor Unions Confederation (Turk-Is), Labor Unions Confederation (DISK) and Confederation of Public Employees Labor Unions (KESK) demanded to celebrate May Day in Taksim Square on May 1 and a controversial debate started between unions and the government.

The tension between the government and unions heightened when Erdogan described them as "feet," a word also used to describe "mob" in Turkish. The governor of Istanbul declined to open Taksim Square for May Day celebrations, rejecting the demands of the Turkish unions, and filed a criminal complaint against the unions, a move that also increased tensions.

Last year, celebrations turned violent and 1,000 people were taken into custody after one union attempted to hold a May Day celebration in Taksim Square.

 

 

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