Turkey's journos, MPs, artists pen petition for freedom of Workers’ Day arrests

Over 100 artists, authors, journalists, and intellectuals have prepared and signed a petition demanding the release of the 48 people arrested during the Workers’ Day march in Istanbul. 

Duvar English

Deputies, artists, authors, journalists, and intellectuals on May 20 penned and signed a petition upon the request of the “We Will Take Them Back” campaign group, calling for the immediate release of the 48 arrests made during the May 1 Workers’ Day march in Istanbul. 

“It is not a crime to celebrate Workers’ Day at its historical location Taksim Square,” the petition held.

The signatories requested the government abide by the Constitutional Court which stated that closing off Taksim Square for May 1 celebrations violated protesters’ freedom of assembly protected by Article 34 of the Turkish constitution. 

Everyone holds the right to organize peaceful demonstrations without being subject to a prior permit, according to the constitution.

Among those arrested were students and young people, who wanted to exercise their constitutional rights on May 1. 

Some 217 protestors were detained during the 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. 

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

Labor unions’ call to march to Taksim Square was amplified by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Accordingly, protesters gathered 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 decided to call off the march, and no longer pursue Taksim Square to prevent further scuffle.