Turkish police tighten security in Istanbul's symbolic square ahead of May Day

Turkish police started placing barriers across roads leading to Istanbul’s Taksim Square ahead of May 1, a symbolic spot for the march of trade unionists and leftist groups that had been a scene of clashes with security forces, leftist news site Evrensel reported on Sunday.

The barriers were placed despite the Turkish authorities rejecting events marking May Day from being held in their traditional venue.

An application to hold celebrations in Taksim Square was made this year but, as has been the case since 2012, the application was rejected, forcing trade unions and workers groups to hold rallies in other parts of Istanbul.

Last year, demonstrators had attempted to defy a government ban on holding events in the symbolic square, but the police used tear gas and shot rubber pellets to disperse the marchers.

Taksim holds a prominent position in the history of anti-government protests due to the 2013 Gezi Park sit-in, as well as due to the 1977 Taksim Square Massacre. On May Day of that year, an estimated 34 people were killed after shots were fired from a nearby building into a crowd.


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