Istanbul police detain 29 in morning raids for ‘illegal’ Workers' Day demonstration 

Turkish police have detained 29 people with early morning raids at their homes, for participating in the Workers’ Day march in Istanbul’s Saraçhane district deemed “illegal” by the Istanbul Governor’s Office. Police had blocked the marching group from reaching Taksim Square.   

"Special Team" police station in front of the Valens Aqueduct to stop protesters marching towards Taksim Square.

Duvar English

Turkish police on May 3 detained 29 individuals affiliated with leftist organizations, who were among the group that wanted to march to Taksim Square for Workers’ Day. 

They were detained during early morning raids at 47 different addresses in Istanbul. 

So far, the Community Centers (Halkevleri), SOL (Left) Party, Revolutionary Movement, Revolutionary Youth Foundations, and Socialist Struggle Initiative have announced their members to be among those detained. 

The police have stated that “participating in an illegal demonstration” was the reason for the detainments.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya shared the operation on his social media account, saying “We did what was necessary.” Investigation was underway to identify the remaining individuals who “attacked our police heroes,” he continued. 

The organizations held that demanding to celebrate Workers’ Day in Taksim Square was not a crime. 

The Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) stated that it would assist the detainees, who were brought to the Vatan Courthouse for questioning. 

Some 217 protestors were detained during the May 1 Workers' Day celebrations in Istanbul, as the Governor’s Office banned celebrations in the iconic Taksim Square and imposed major public transportation and road closures for the day. 

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) called upon labor unions to gather at the party headquarters in Istanbul’s Saraçhane district, aiming to march to Taksim Square some four kilometers away. 

The march was cut off by the police barricades upon Atatürk Boulevard, blocking the road to Taksim Square.

The crowd demanded passage and had a stand-off with police, who responded with tear gas. The organizing committee of DİSK (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions) and KESK (Confederation of Public Laborers' Union) decided to call off the march, and no longer pursue Taksim Square to prevent further scuffle. 

The leftist organizations and opposition parties pointed out the Constitutional Court’s December 2023 ruling, which rendered the governor’s Taksim ban illegal. 

The court found the closure of the iconic Taksim Square for Workers’ Day celebrations violated the right to "assembly and demonstration," given Taksim's "shared memory" and "symbolic value" for workers.