May Day, 2009
May Day was an official holiday in Turkey this year, for the first time since the 1980 military coup d'état. In Istanbul, workers were still not given permission to enter Taksim Square. They struggled to enter anyway, this year as last. On television, we watched battles all morning between rebels and police. The police used water cannons; rebels threw stones and Molotov cocktails and in one case kicked in a bank window. Different broadcasters showed different scenes. (Photos from Radikal.) Police seemed to go light with the billy clubs, at least on camera; they did however throw some stones back at the rebels. Eventually some unionists were allowed to enter Taksim, for the first time since the massacre of 1977.
Meanwhile, for the Ankara demonstration, we were meeting in front of the train station in the early afternoon. The weather alternated between cloudy and sunny. Sometimes a fine rain fell, but it was never very much. The mayor has built one of his beloved roadway underpasses in front of the train station; some groups assembled down there, getting ready to march to the rally at Sıhhiye Square.
Captions (below the pictures) generally translate the banners:
Hands off my headscarf!
We are all transvestites [or just queers]!
Save the planet, not the corporations!
—Revolutionary Socialist Worker Party
Free the detained unionists!
—Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions
Homophobia is a treatable disease!
Taksim is not enough; we want Kızılay [Square in Ankara, just south of Sıhhiye, still open to cars]!
We're not customers, we're students;
we're not just students, we're the future!
(A dershane offers classes to prepare for the university entrance exam)
(caught in the act)
Down with the AKP and the Crisis
Revolution is the only way
Freedom, Education, Future
METU will not give up the struggle
(These are our students)
Students of the faculty of political sciences [at Ankara University]
Hacettepe University Students
What's being told is your story:
Don't stop your ears
(Some groups, as these METU students, would stop marching for a while, just for the fun of running to catch up.)
(Normally the police would set up these portals, through which all demonstrators would have to pass and be searched when entering the final rallying area at Sıhhiye. We heard that this time a group of rebels came and fought with the police and dismantled the barriers; the police were eventually instructed to give way, though it seems they used tear gas first. Photos from Radikal)
(A lot of news organizations were present, but the events of Istanbul were all we saw on the evening news)
We're issuing a firman against the [economic] crisis and the university entrance exam
—High-School Youth Opposition