A Turkish protestor wearing a gas mask and a hard hat takes cover during clashes with riot police who prevent demonstrators from reaching Taksim Square in Istanbul for a May Day rally on May 1, 2014.
A Turkish protester wearing a gas mask and a hard hat takes cover during clashes with riot police who tried to prevent demonstrators from reaching Taksim Square in Istanbul for a May Day rally on May 1, 2014.Ferhat M. Zupcevic—NurPhoto/Sipa USA
A Turkish protestor wearing a gas mask and a hard hat takes cover during clashes with riot police who prevent demonstrators from reaching Taksim Square in Istanbul for a May Day rally on May 1, 2014.
Protesters fire back as riot police use water cannons and teargas to disperse thousands of people trying to reach the city's main Taksim Square to celebrate May Day in Istanbul, May 1, 2014.
Turkish riot policemen run after protesters to disperse a May Day rally near Taksim Square in Istanbul on May 1, 2014.
Turkish protestors during clashes with riot police who tried to prevent demonstrators from reaching Taksim Square in Istanbul for a May Day rally on May 1, 2014.
Protesters shield themselves as riot police use water cannon to disperse them during a May Day demonstration in Istanbul May 1, 2014.
Istanbul May A protester is being taken into custody during the protest in Istanbul, May 1, 2014. -
Police intervened after a group of demonstrators gathered at the Asian side of the Bosporus Bridge to cross the strait to join May 1 celebrations on the European side of Istanbul, May 1, 2014.
A Turkish protester wearing a gas mask and a hard hat takes cover during clashes with riot police who tried to prevent d
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Ferhat M. Zupcevic—NurPhoto/Sipa USA
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May Day Demonstrators Clash With Istanbul Police

May 01, 2014

May Day demonstrators defied a protest ban and took to the streets around Istanbul’s Taksim Square Thursday, prompting clashes with police sent in preparation for what's known around the world as a day of protest.

Police used tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators, including a mix of trade unions, opposition activists and far left groups celebrating what has been dubbed International Workers’ Day, Turkish state news reports. Some protesters threw fireworks and stones at police.

Several unions had said earlier that they would ignore Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s warnings not to march on Taksim Square.

“We will be in Taksim despite the irrational and illegal ban. All roads will lead to Taksim on May Day, and our struggle for labour, equality, freedom, justice and peace will continue," top unions said in a joint statement, Reuters reports.

Roads and streets leading to Taksim Square were closed off Thursday, and authorities deployed nearly 40,000 police in Istanbul ahead of the protests.

The square’s iconic status is linked to its history as a hotspot for protests. A sit-in against urban development plans snowballed into weeks of mass anti-government protests in the area last year. And on May 1, 1977, 36 people were killed after unidentified gunmen fired on a massive May Day demonstration in the square.

May Day demonstrations took place around the world on Thursday, with some leading to clashes with police. Nearly 1,000 workers and opposition supporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia ignored a protest ban and clashed with security forces.

[Anadolu Agency]

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