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The roads leading to Taksim have been closed to traffic at 5 a.m. All streets leading to the Taksim Sqaure have been encircled with barricades. The police waiting at the head of each street direct people to other streets. We know what this means from previous years. It means “try your chance at another street”.
Dialogues between police and workers, tourists and journalists were familiar.
Despite having received work documents from their work places, the hotel workers haven’t been allowed to enter the square. Waiting with work documents in their hands, the workers are worried that their “bosses may not believe that they couldn’t enter the square despite the work document”.
Walking with luggage in their hands, the tourist pointing at their hotel 200 meters ahead was surprised to hear police saying “No, you can’t”.
Following dialogues took place at the square:
Citizen: I am heading to my office?
Police: You can use the Meta Street.
Citizen: The other police officers directed me here, another one directed to another place. So, where is the Meta Street?
Police: I don’t know.
Citizen: You cannot even give alternative directions to the citizens.
Police: I work at Arnavutköy, how would I know.
Citizen: Will they let us pass there?
Police: I truly don’t know, I don’t understand. Do all police officers direct [the people] to each other?
Another police: We are laborers as well. They’ve instructed us to not let anyone in including the journalists. Otherwise why would we suffer the citizens.
Similar dialogues are heard at every street.
Like every year, there is no specific rule for the press. I was rejected at four police security check points from Halaskargazi Street to Taksim Square by being told “Try the next one”.
I could barely enter the İstiklal Street through another side street with my press card. In sum, what they cannot prevent only is birds.
May 1 and Taksim
May 1 was celebrated in Turkey for the first time in 1906.
In 1977, fire was opened during May 1 celebrations at the Takim Square, killing 34 people. The event passed into history as “Bloody May “.
In 1979, May celebrations were banned in İstanbul and curfew was declared.
In 1989, a group of 2,000 people attempting to march towards Taksim on İstikal Street were dispersed by the police. A young man named Mehmet Akif Dalcı was shot to death during the incidents.
In 2009, over 5,000 people celebrated May 1 at the Taksim Square. Even though the governorship declared that no pepper gas would be used, police intervened in the demonstrators with pepper gas.
In 2010, the Taksim Square was opened to “demonstrations” after 32 years.
In 2013, the police attacked the groups that wanted to go to the Taksim Square. The celebrations were held following a police intervention that lasted seven hours. The police attacked that celebrations as well.
In 2014 and 2015, the Taksim Square was closed to May 1 celebrations. The groups rallying in Beşiktaş and Şişli confronted police attack. (NV/TK)
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