Citing pandemic, Istanbul governor bans May Day demonstrations

The Istanbul Governor's Office has banned all demonstrations in the city until May 17, including May 1 gatherings, citing the government's recent “partial closure” decision amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duvar English

The Istanbul Governor's Office on April 19 banned all demonstrations and activities in the city until May 17, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ban includes any gathering planned for May 1 Labor Day.

The governor's office of Kocaeli, Aydın, Denizli had also previously banned May 1 rallies.

Turkey has seen rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths since the government eased virus-control restrictions at the beginning start of March, when daily confirmed cases averaged below 10,000.

The government re-introduced a partial closure on April 13, including an extended evening curfew on weekdays, a return to online education and a ban on unnecessary intercity travel.

Critics however say that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using the pandemic as an excuse to ban demonstrations and protests, but flocking the measures when it comes to serving its own agenda.

AKP's crowded gatherings and congresses in complete disregard of COVID-19 measures have recently received widespread criticism in the public as several restrictions are currently in place for restaurants, cafes, unions and associations.

Last year, several trade union leaders were detained in Istanbul on May 1, after they tried to stage a march in defiance of a ban on demonstrations at the Taksim Square.

The detentions came as the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) leaders attempted to lay wreaths of carnations at the historical square.

The ban on May Day demonstrations in Taksim has been in effect for several years, due to security concerns.

Taksim Square holds symbolic value for Turkey’s labor movement. During a 1977 May Day event, 34 people were killed there when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.