Total arrests for Istanbul May 1 march reach 72 with recent crackdown

A Turkish court has arrested all 27 people detained with home raids for “attacking police officers” during the Workers’ Day march in Istanbul, bringing the total arrests for the protest to 72.  

Leftist organizations and unions hold a banner reading "Freedom to the prisoners" in front of the Istanbul Courthouse.

Duvar English

An Istanbul court on May 23 arrested 27 people for “assaulting a police officer” during the May 1 Workers’ Day march held in the Saraçhane district. 

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for 39 individuals accused of attacking the police. During home raids carried out as part of the third wave of operations, authorities detained 27 people.

Lawyer Çiğdem Akbulut stated that the move was aimed to “intimidate and scare” those who participated in the May 1 celebrations. Speaking during a demonstration held by the Istanbul Labor, Peace, and Democracy Forces in front of the Istanbul Courthouse, the lawyer stated that they would continue to remind everyone that Taksim Square is the location of May 1.

The group convened at the courthouse before the hearing to demand the release of those detained and previously arrested for participating in the protests. 

Previously, authorities had arrested 46 individuals who were detained on May 1 for allegedly attacking the police. 

Hüseyin Tosu, speaking on behalf of the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK), described the crackdown as a “witch hunt.”

KESK was among the organization committee for the march in Istanbul. 

“The only illegal thing in Saraçhane was the police barricades,” noted the union representative, referring to the extensive police presence blocking the road to Taksim.  

Tosu emphasized the Constitutional Court ruling that found rights violations in the government’s closure of Taksim Square for Workers’ Day celebrations and declared that they would not give up their constitutional rights. 

“Conduct operations against criminal gangs, not leftists and revolutionaries fighting for a democratic Turkey,” he continued. 

Pelin Kahiloğulları, a spokesperson for the Social Freedom Party (SÖP), said, “We are in a capitalist system that kills the working class, nature, and animals. We will not stop raising our voices for our comrades currently detained.” 

Kahiloğulları added that the detained protesters exercised their right to resist. 

This marks the third such operation organized by authorities against those who attempted to march to Taksim Square on May 1, a historically significant place for the workers’ movement in the country.

Since May 1, many protestors who gathered to march to Taksim Square have been detained in police operations.

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

Police had detained 247 more people from their residences the following morning, claiming they “attacked” police officers during the march.