Mayday march attacked by police in Istanbul

Istanbul, 1 May 2008

The Turkish state cracked down heavily on an attempt to celebrate May Day in Istanbul. Here is a minute by minute report.

Fearing workers insistence on celebrating Labor Day, police started its attacks early in the morning. At 6:30AM, the police attacked workers gathering in front of DISK (Progressive Labor Union’s Confederation). Police used tanks and pepper gas against the workers waiting peacefully in front of their unions.

In other parts of Istanbul, clashes start to start as the police attacks all “suspect” groups which may attempt to celebrate May Day. In Okmeydani, a youth is wounded by plastic bullet to his head fired by security forces.

5 bus loads of people arrested randomly by the cops are being held in Police headquarters at Vatan Street.

3:00 PM Police raids the offices of the socialist Freedom and Solidarity Party. Many arrested while police opened fire randomly with real bullets.

2:45 PM Police raids the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers and arrest 16 people present in this occupational association of engineers. Clashes erupt near Taksim Emergency hospital, and Gulbag region of Istanbul. Demonstrations erupt against police brutality. Police is unable to control the demonstrators as they erect barriers against random police attacks. Clashes last over hours in these regions.

2:05 PM Press release by DISK President Süleyman Çelebi: “It is as if the whole city of Istanbul is under siege. There is a stste terror against the people.” Mr. Çelebi said they were against a state sponsored show rally that the government wanted to impose and thus refused to attend a state ceremony. He said, “The governor, Internal Affairs Minister and the Prime Minister should resign. This is not a simple matter we have in our hands today. We will not let it go. We will hold them accountable.” He said the prime minister Erdogan had rolled back all worker rights but only upheld the right of women to wear Islamic head scarves against the law.

Süleyman Çelebi also said the police attacked hospitals with poisonous gas to kill the patients and also forced workers . He continued, “Let them know that we will meet in the Taksim Square. This attack made us bolder. The Prime Minister said, “If the feet became the head the universe will collapse.” We will show him how everything will collapse.”

2:00 PM Police attack a group marching on Siraselviler Street. The democstrators at Cihangir, insisting on celebrating the historical workers day, May Day, erected barriers against brutal police attacks.

Workers attacked by police in Sisli with pressured water retreat towards side streets. Security forces in civilian clothes follow the workers inside alleys and small residential streets. A women who fell in the scuffle and was laying on the street, defensless was kicked in the head by a cop.

1:30 PM A youth, Burhan Gul is wounded from his head when a police plastic bullet hits him in Okmeydani. Attorney Taner announced that his client has been taken to hospital and is under emergency care.

1:20 PM Around 30 people gathered in front of municipal police to protest the police attack against a street vendor. Police was overpowered and the vendors cart was taken back by the people and given back to the vendor. People started chanting “Long Live May Day!”

1:15 PM Another one of our correspondents is arrested.

1:10 PM Police start to attack institutions and raids all opposition associations. The Chamber of Surveying Engineers is raided by the cops in Sisli. The board members are beaten and arrested.

1:05 PM Police arrest our two correspondents trying to report on the events. Police confiscated their cameras. 400 people arrested near Besiktas. They are being held near Inonu sports stadium.

1:00 PM Police is attacking all civilians everywhere. When the store owners asked the fate of a person beaten brutally and arrested by the cops police attacked the inquiring store owners in the neighborhood. Store owners resisted and chanted, “is this proportional force against the people? He could have been our child!”

Police arrested anybody on the street near Macka.

People start to react this uncontrolled police brutality taking place with impunity on the streets in open daylight.
Clashes grow and continue near Taksim Square where a mass of workers are forcing their way to get to the historic site of May Day celebrations. Police arrests people at random.

12:40 PM Workers clash with police at Dolapdere neighborhood. Police attacked a group of workers here with pepper sprays. Clashes spread to the side streets and alleys. Police then attacked Bilgi University. To prevent students from giving support to the workers around 8 barriers are erected.

Workers are waiting at Pangalti and other parts of Dolapdere neighborhoods. Workers are clashing with security forces to push their way towards historic May Day plaza, the Taksim Square. In the neighborhoods of Harbiye, Military Museum and Governer’s Mansion clashes are takig place.

Crowd is gathering around the most popular main street Istiklal. People who could not get into Taksim from Sisli started marching to join forces with the crowd onIstiklal Street.

12:15 PM Clashes continue around Sisli. Some unions are forcing the enterance of Taksim Plaza. A group of around 1,000 workers from Dolapdere are clasing with the cops to get into the plaza.

Reports of more than 40 wounded by police attacks and more than 200 arrests resulting from police attacks since this morning.

12:00 PM Unions hold a press release saying they will march to Taksim Square and leave flowers to commemorate the memory of the workers murdered by security forces in 1977.

11:45 AM Police attack a group of left movements gathered at Istiklal Street. Clashes and bloody confrontations now spread to the side streets.

The members of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) could not pass through the police barricades and retreated back to the party headquarters where they held a press conference.

Police attack to a hospital outrages the patients and their families! Patients are protesting police attack in front of the hospital. A pregnant women caught between the police attack and people trying to defend themselves fainted on the street. Another patient, gassed by the cops, also faints. Patient families and relatives fight against the police and are able to push them back outside the hospital premises.

Unions are holding a press conference in front of the social democratic CHP (Republican Peoples Party) to march towards Taksim Square.

11:30 AM Unions start the march to drop carnations at Taksim Square to commemorate the more than 30 people killed in 1977 May Day by Turkish and US security forces and snipers.

Health care workers union SES and Chamber of Physicians group is attacked by the police.

Two people arrested as clashes grow in the side streets of Istiklal.

House Representative from CHP Mehmet Ali Özpolat affected by the police gas canisters thrown inside the Confederation of Progressive Labor unions (DISK) has a heart attack. Manisa Representative Şahin Mengü said the gas used by the police is illegal even in war situations under the Geneva convention.

11:00 AM Police start arresting anybody they find on the streets around Sisli. Brutal police beatings are reported from the neighborhood.

A group of 1,000 workers waiting in front of the Sisli Mosque are subject to the latest police attack. There are reports of many wounded. Confrontations between people in front of popukar shopping malls and streets grow.

President of the social democratic party DSP and CHP vice president visit DISK (Confederation of Progressive Workers Unions). In a press conference there, both leaders criticized the government.

10:30 AM Police now attack the members of the Chamber of Engineers and Architects.

A journalist taking the photo of the cops clubbing a women on the ground was thrown to the ground as well and beaten to a pulp by the cops. Police threatened the journalist and are forcing them out of the district.

Doctors from the Chamber of Physicians and the health care workers from SES union re-gather in front of the Sisli Eftal Hospital and opened their May Day banner supporting the workers and laborers. They are preparing to start the march again.

10:20 AM Police escalates its attack against the journalists after beating the workers and the patients at a local hospital. Many journalists are being clubbed. Reports that many reporters, including journalist Bülent Usta have been injured from police brutality.

10:15 AM Police is attacking the Etfal Hospital! Cops raid the hospital cafeteria and throw pepper gas into the building. Patients, infants, children and older people are being gassed by the Turkish police.

A person with heart condition faints on the street in Sisli from police gas.

10:10 AM Police gas the Etfal Hospital emergency service! Workers, doctors, nurses, patients and their families are being attacked.

Health care providers gathered in the hospital yard are attacked. Gas canisters are being shot constantly to the hospital yard.

An ambulance bringing a patient in critical condition was also gassed by the police.

10:00 AM Police attack for the 4th time this morning against workers at the headquarters of DISK, the Confederation of Progressive Labor Unions.

Around 100 Attorneys trying to reach DISK building comes under attack by the cops. Police first told the attorneys they could pass after showing their identity cards. But once the attorneys passed, the police assaulted them from behind. Many lawyers are injured from the police brutality.

A group, including 20 parliamentarian representatives, is fighting back against the police in Sisli. Many CHP local governors are marching in this group and they have opened banners supporting the Labor Day.

09:45 AM Local Government Workers Union is gathering in front of the Armenian weekly Agos.

Lawyers are trying to reach DISK building to see and/or carry the wounded out to the hospitals.

Police is throwing gas canisters into residential buildings and are shutting the front gates to poison and to kill the people in the apartments.

Visit Sendika to see video footage and Abahlali baseMjondolo to see photographs.

Posted By

red jack
May 2 2008 17:53


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May 4 2008 18:54

This is a shocking clampdown upon legitimate workers organizations. this is even more shocking when you think that Turkey is being considered for EU membership, the EU will look badly on the total lack of human rights shown quite clearly in this article, I hope to hell that Amnesty International and other orgs start a solidarity campaign to help our Turkish comrades