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Turkish unions prep for anti-government rally despite official ban

English.news.cn   2014-04-30 20:24:46


ISTANBUL, April 30 (Xinhua) -- About 500,000 people are expected to rally against the government in Turkey's iconic Taksim Square on May 1 to mark the international labor holiday, May Day, despite a government ban on protests.

Baki Cinar, secretary general of press and information of the Confederation of Public Workers' Unions, said that around 500,000 union members would join the march in Istanbul and are planning to enter Taksim.

Cinar said that unless police intervene, the Turkish workers would celebrate the day peacefully with songs and dances as they did previously in 2010, 2011 and in 2012.

But tensions are rising in Istanbul ahead of the May Day celebrations as the Governor's Office warned on Wednesday that " illegal terrorist groups" would turn the celebrations violent.

"Intelligence units (say) illegal terrorist organizations and their offshoot groups will resort to violence against security forces," the office said in a statement.

Public order and security at Taksim Square and its surroundings would be at risk, the statement added.

The government has repeatedly said Turkey's symbolic square would be off limits for celebrations and gathering points.

Istanbul's European side district of Yenikapi has been offered as an alternative rallying point by the Istanbul Mayor Huseyin Mutlu.

As the unions are prepping for May 1, so are government agencies.

Istanbul's government announced that local ports and neighboring district of Taksim would be closed off, making it harder for outsiders to enter the city center.

Authorities have also said that 40,000 police will be deployed in Istanbul, almost half of them in Taksim, equipped with 50 water cannon trucks and armored vehicles, signaling they expect violent clashes.

These developments have not discouraged the labor unions.

"We will do our best to be in the square to commemorate those who have been killed during the clashes in 1977 May Day celebration in Taksim Square," Cinar said.

On May 1, 1977, 37 people died and 136 were injured in an incident that came to be known as the "Taksim Square Massacre."

Cinar blamed the government's restrictions on protests for the increased tensions in the city.

Beyazit Ilhan, general secretary of The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, said the ban creates violence.

"We cannot understand why the government has been persisting to ban the square to laborers," Ilhan said. "We do not want to see any police intervention anymore. We do not want the police to attack the laborers using rubber bullets, tear gas."

Turkey's major trade unions and the Turkish Medical Association declared on Wednesday that they would be in Taksim to celebrate the international labor day.

Editor: Fu Peng
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