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May Day Mayhem in Istanbul
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 02 May 2008 Fri 03:47 pm

Istanbul's Taksim Square looks deserted to me. Earlier as I ventured out on a splendid May Day morning from my flat nearby to cover this symbolic day dedicated to the workers' rights and other social causes I was filled with anticipation of a peaceful celebration . But the police completely cordoned off the whole area. I was not totally surprised as they were putting up barriers on the eve of May Day. Nevertheless, ominously the entire square was ringed with police in anti riot gear as a foretaste of what was to come later.

What usually is the nerve centre of the city and where the hustle and bustle brims over in a place filled with tourists and local tradesmen, it almost seemed as if the earth stood still and the Square was effectively shut down. The surrounding area and parks lined by huge luxury hotels were hastily transformed into military camp-like zones, on the day which is supposed to be a celebration for unions and the common man.
The outlying streets surrounding Taksim were filled with police and paramilitaries in full gear. In anticipation of violent protests, the authorities shut down schools and most government offices. Some ferries which shuttle commuters across the Bosporus to the Asian side were also shut down. This huge city of around 15 million seemed semi-paralyzed. And in addition to the usual tensions between government and the unions made worse by prospective radical social reforms -- which include a proposed pension overhaul -- Turkey is faced with the "closure case" filed by the Constitutional Court aimed at shutting down the ruling AKP party.


http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?article_class=3&no=382468&rel_no=1

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