Article published on April 29, 2009
Article published on April 29, 2009
Cansu EKMEKCIOGLU Despite the oppositions of the deputies of Justice and Development Party (AKP) which was severely criticized for not only banned the use of Taksim Square but also exploded violent confrontation between police and demonstrators for last year’s May Day Celebrations, the declaration saying that May 1 will be an official holiday from now on can be seen as a significant symbol for
Turkish unions as well as workers. The decision is symbolic because it signs that decades-old struggle between workers and government in Turkey has now gained a meaningful success on the side of workers. Suleyman Celebi, the head of the confederation of Revolutionary Workers’s Union (DISK) said that “Nobody should view this move as a favor being given to the working class; it is the return of a right, which was wrongfully taken away 30 years ago.”

Yet, this symbolic decision has brought much more controversy question in many people’s mind: Is Taksim going to be open for the May Day Celebration? Since the location, Taksim Square, has become specified with the May 1, 1977 which has been called as ‘Bloody May 1’ with 36 deceased and numvers of incidents of workers, following celebrations has connoted to commemorate those young demonstrators in its very meaning. Though the absence of any official claim about the Taksim Square’s situation as ‘No Mand’s Land’ on the government side, the unions such as DISK, KESK, TMMOB, TTB and also Turkish Communist Party (TKP) declared that they will be in Taksim on this Friday. Yet, President Abdullah Gül compensated this intense situation by saying that Taksim Square must be open for unions.

Another hot debate on this issue is that whether or not the security forces use disproportionate force against the demonstrators. Because in last year’s celebration, zero-tolerance strategy of the municipality and police forces in Taksim is stil alive in memories of most people. It is obvious that this is not the first violent act by the security forces –and unfortunately it won’t be the last- escalating tension between police and demonstrators seems here to stay because the head of Security Directorate Oğuz Kaan Köksal said that the police will still use unidentified-helmet. This means that ‘unidentified violence’ might have seen in Friday’s demonstration.

All in all, it can be said that this year’s May Day celebration seems to held in much more tense situation wherein unemployment, economic crisis, loss of faith in politics are becoming more crucial topics in people’s everyday agenda.