A petition filed by the Civil Servants’ Trade Union (Memur-Sen) at the İstanbul Governor’s Office in March requesting the celebration of May Day in İstanbul’s busiest square, Taksim, has been rejected by the governor’s office, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Wednesday.
After the rejection of Memur-Sen’s first petition, the union filed another petition at the governor’s office with the same request. The governor’s office has not yet responded to the second petition but it is expected to reject it as well.
In addition to Memur-Sen, the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) want to hold May Day celebrations in Taksim.
An executive board member of KESK İlhan Yiğit has said there will be celebrations across all Turkish provinces on May 1, adding that they want to hold a major celebration in Taksim Square “in accordance with the spirit of May Day.”
The heart of the May 1 celebrations has always been Taksim which, until 2009, was off limits to demonstrators following May Day 1977, also known as Bloody May Day, when 34 people were killed after unknown assailants opened fire on the crowd. Since then, May Day in Turkey has always been a source of tension.
In 2009, the government decided to declare May Day an official holiday and opened Taksim Square up for celebrations. About three decades after Bloody May Day, under tight security, Taksim Square became the venue of peaceful celebrations aside from a few minor incidents in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Yet, Turkey returned to the same debates on Taksim for the past three years.