Istanbul police on April 21 battered and detained several workers who wanted to read a press statement for the May 1 Labor Day at the Bakırköy Özgürlük (Freedom) Square, daily Evrensel reported.
The workers wanted to protest their dismissal from jobs due to their membership to the All Automative and Metal Workers Union (TOMİS).
Bakırköy'de 1 Mayıs çağrısı yapmak isteyen işçileri gözaltına alan polisin uyguladığı darp ve şiddet kameralara yansıdı. Polis memurları, yerlerde sürükleyip tekmeledikleri işçileri kalkanlarla ezmeye çalıştıhttps://t.co/uqWHnSOo5g pic.twitter.com/Ru0rbPRHLV— Evrensel Gazetesi (@evrenselgzt) April 21, 2021
However, they have faced police blockade and were told that their gathering was not allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The workers insisted on making their press statement, pointing out that the pandemic was being used as an excuse by the government to ban demonstrations.
In response, they faced harsh police intervention, with images showing them being battered and repeatedly kicked on the ground.
As the workers were being detained, they shouted slogans of “Long live May 1.”
Bakırköy Özgürlük Meydanı'nda 1 Mayıs'a çağrı yapmak isteyen Tüm Otomotiv ve Metal İşçileri Sendikası üyeleri polis tarafından engellendi— Evrensel Gazetesi (@evrenselgzt) April 21, 2021
Çok sayıda kişi gözaltına alınırken gazeteciler de polis tarafından engellenmek istendihttps://t.co/paXYOgmdOe pic.twitter.com/dbKxnOnnF2
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Musa Piroğlu was at the square to show his support for the workers.
He protested the detentions, saying: “This government is pushing people to the arms of poverty. But they are themselves [government officials] continuing with robbery and human smuggling.”
“They wish that the voice of workers and poverty is not heard. They wish that the system of looting and exploitation does not see any objection. But those who blockade this square today should know that this system of exploitation will end,” he was quoted as saying by Mezopotamya news agency.
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.
Critics however say that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using the pandemic as an excuse to ban demonstrations and protests, but ignoring the measures when it comes to serving its own agenda.