HomeWorldTürkiye: Unlawful ban on May Day celebrations in Istanbul must be lifted

Türkiye: Unlawful ban on May Day celebrations in Istanbul must be lifted

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The Turkish authorities must urgently lift a ban on a planned May Day solidarity demonstration in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and allow people to gather in accordance with a recent ruling by Türkiye’s Constitutional Court, Amnesty International said.

Trade unions, opposition parties and other civil society organizations have pledged to gather in Taksim Square despite a ban announced by the governor on 23 April and by the Minister of Interior on 29 April.

“The ban on the May Day celebrations is based on entirely spurious security and public order grounds and goes against the recent Constitutional Court decision. It must be urgently lifted,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Europe, Dinushika Dissanayake.

“Taksim Square is a place of huge symbolic significance and has long been a place where people gather in protest and in celebration. For more than a decade, the Turkish authorities have unlawfully restricted people’s right to assembly and criminalized peaceful protests that take place in the square. It is therefore vital that this year, May Day celebrations are allowed to proceed.”

The ban on May Day rallies in Taksim Square dates back to 2013, when, on multiple occasions, the police violently prevented trade unions, their supporters and other organizations from gathering.

In October 2023, Türkiye’s Constitutional Court ruled that the right to peaceful assembly of DİSK (the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Trade Unions), during the May Day celebrations in Taksim in 2014 and 2015 had been violated by the bans and forceful dispersals of protesters by law enforcement officials.

“The binding decision of the Constitutional Court must be respected by the authorities. The decade-long, baseless restrictions on peaceful assemblies in Taksim Square must be finally lifted,” said Dinushika Dissanayake.

“The Turkish authorities, including law enforcement officials, must ensure that they fulfil their duty to enable peaceful assemblies to take place. They must also take all necessary steps to protect participants’ enjoyment of their rights.”

Background

On 23 April 2024, the Governor of Istanbul Davut Gül stated that trade unions would not be permitted to assemble in Taksim Square. On 29 April 2024, the Minister of the Interior also said that the square is not suitable for assemblies and that May Day protests would not be allowed to take place. They claim that Taksim’s location and the heavy traffic would make it difficult to ensure the protection of rights and freedoms and also refer to risks of “terror attacks”.

In 2009, the government declared 1 May an official public holiday and, for the first time in 32 years, some workers and their organizations were allowed to gather peacefully in Taksim Square. The area was closed to demonstrations again in 2013 for supposed security concerns.

The 2023 Constitutional Court ruled that preventing May Day celebrations at Taksim Square constituted a violation of the constitutional right to organise public meetings and demonstrations, as safeguarded by Article 34 of the Constitution.

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