Death and Arrests During May Day Protests

By Independent Turkey

Police in a gas cloud following clashes between police and protesters on May Day in Istanbul, Taksim.

Source: Murad Sezer/ Reuters

A 57-year-old man was killed today after being struck by a water cannon security vehicle (TOMA) during May Day demonstrations near Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

Nail Mavuş was heavily wounded as protesters attempted to reach Taksim, attempts that were blocked by security forces deployed to the area in order to prevent groups from demonstrating in the historic square.

Taksim has a long history of protests on International Labour Day, however following the 1977 massacre, demonstrations were banned.

In 2010, the Justice and Development Party allowed unions and citizens to use the square for the first time since the tragedy in ’77, which became known as ‘bloody May Day’, and has been cited by activists using the square since this time.

This renewed protest culture was short lived however as following the Gezi Park uprising of 2013, the government once again banned the use of the square.

For the past two years the government has cited security reasons for banning protests in the area, employing a controversial security law passed last year which allows for the use of tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

Thousands of policemen, multiple water cannon vehicles and helicopters were deployed to Istanbul for use in anti-terror operations according to security officials. Several people have been detained following clashes between police and protesters.

May Day celebrations in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district and cities such as Ankara and Izmir largely proceeded without police intervention, despite security concerns over possible attacks in Ankara and body searches in Izmir.

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