Riot police in Istanbul have teargased and fired water canon at crowds trying to get to the city’s Taksim Square for May 1 Labour Day Celebrations, injuring about a dozen people with 72 arrests.
Demonstrators carrying International Labour Day banners and chanting “Long live Workers’ Day” were trying to get through police lines to Taksim Square when the police used teargas and water cannon to disperse them. Some of the protesters threw stones, metal objects and Molotov cocktails at police lines.
Two policemen have been wounded in the clashes and are being treated in hospital, while 20 protesters have been detained by police, according to a statement by Istanbul’s governor. As many as a dozen people were injured during the clashes, according to AFP.
Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the cities governor, said that the clashes had been instigated by “radical groups”, of about 3,500 people who attacked the police.
Taksim Square is the traditional site of demonstrations in Istanbul, but this year the governorate refused to give permission to trade unions and youth groups to march to the square, supposedly because of a large construction project in the area.
Both the unions and youth groups say that Taksim Square is the historic site of May 1 activities and that they have a right to demonstrate there.