May Day turned ugly in Turkey on Monday as protesters clashed with police.
Security forces in Istanbul fired tear gas and rubber bullets, a Reuters witness said, as demonstrators tried to reach the iconic Taksim Square, despite it being declared out of bounds.
More than 200 people were reportedly detained at protests across the city, on the international workers’ holiday.
Taksim is a traditional rallying point for anti-government rallies but it has extra-strong symbolic resonance on May Day. That is when, in 1977, dozens of people were either shot or trampled to death when unknown gunmen opened fire in the square.
Turkish riot police clash arrest a protester attempting to defy a ban and march to celebrate May Day in Istanbul, on May 1, 2017 pic.twitter.com/SiEZHwNPeH— AFP news agency (@AFP) 1 mai 2017
Tensions are particularly high in Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a referendum last month, giving him sweeping new powers.
Amid the current crackdown sweeping the country, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has voiced deep concern.
Over the weekend, 3,900 people were removed from the civil service and the armed forces, while authorities blocked access to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, citing a law allowing the banning of access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
Erdogan says the measures are necessary, given the security threats faced by Turkey.