Istanbul Governor bans labor unions to celebrate Workers' Day in Taksim Square

Istanbul Governor Davut Gül announced that the labor unions were banned from celebrating the May 1 Workers' Day in Taksim Square and said, "It will be celebrated in any area other than Taksim."

Duvar English

Istanbul Governor Davut Gül announced that the celebration of May 1 International Workers' Day in Istanbul's historic Taksim Square has been banned.

The Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions (KESK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Turkish Dental Association (TDB) has called for the upcoming Workers' Day to be celebrated in Taksim Square. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) also backed unions' call.

"As you know, May 1 has not been celebrated in Taksim since 2012," Gül said, "Taksim is closed to all such events. We talked to all of (labor unions), especially DİSK, KESK and similar organizations. We explain that the celebrations will not be held in Taksim," Gül noted.

Istanbul Governor stated that they would do their part for the celebrations if they are held elsewhere and added, "They (unions) are deliberating among themselves. It will probably be finalized within this week."

During the Children's Day celebrations, 10-year-old girl named Derin Mina Koç who symbolically sat in the chair of Istanbul Governor Davut Gül said that she would allow the Workers' Day celebrations to be held in Taksim upon the question of journalists.

A 10-year-old girl replaces Istanbul Governor as part of a tradition adopted by government officials during Turkey's Children's Day celebrations.

DİSK General Secretary Tayfun Görgün has previously stated on behalf of the unions that they would not apply for an official permit for celebrations in Taksim Square.

"This is also a union action, there is no need for special permission. We will only inform the public authorities. In the meantime, we have given a file to the Istanbul Governor's Office and the Interior Ministry regarding our celebrations in Taksim and our legal grounds for our decision."

According to the Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution, "Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission."

Even though Taksim Square has been the historic center for Workers’ Day celebrations, the Turkish government has banned any protest at the square since 2013 and only allowed labor union representatives to hold a symbolic vigil.

In December 2023, the Constitutional Court (AYM) ruled that denying permission for the May 1 celebrations in Taksim Square in 2014 and 2015 constituted a violation of rights. AYM determined that the right to "assembly and demonstration" was violated, emphasizing Taksim's significance as the "shared memory" and "symbolic value" of workers.