ORHAN – May 1 in Turkey this year

May 1 in Turkey this yearThose who wanted to head to Taksim to celebrate May 1 this year couldn’t because of the heavy security. Groups that included deputies from both the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were unable to march the route that had been planned from the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) General Headquarters to Taksim. While many cities throughout Turkey had fairly uneventful May 1 celebrations, the May 1 celebrations in both Istanbul and Ankara appeared more like street warfare than anything else at times. In the end, it was clear from this year’s celebrations that no lessons had been learned from the past. It also appears that beyond any particular meaning or importance surrounding May 1, the idea of heading to Taksim on May 1 has become in and of itself the main goal for many people. And so we leave one more set of May 1 celebrations behind us. In statements made by some of the groups aiming to head to Taksim yesterday, it was announced that work had already begun to ensure that May 1 celebrations in 2015 can occur in Taksim. Of course, the memory of the fateful events of May 1, 1977, when 37 people lost their lives in Taksim, has not faded in fact, the insistence on returning to Taksim is in many ways connected to this. But at the same time, it needs to be accepted that those who wish to celebrate this worker’s holiday peacefully and who do not wish to clash with security forces — as occurred in the Gezi Park protests — abandoned this country’s largest labor syndicates, such as DISK and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), on May 1. It was very apparent from yesterday’s actions that the groups coming together were marginal groups, with very little — if any — connection to laborers and workers. There were no laborers or workers in the city squares. In this sense, those who had believed that this May 1 large crowds would gather and overcome the police barriers — as we saw in the Gezi Park protests — were disappointed. Instead, what we saw on the streets seems to be some sort of reflection of the March 30 elections. One CHP deputy leader, analyzing the results of the March 30 elections, connected the failure of the CHP to attain the votes it had wished for to the realities of three foreign countries he said were “living” in Turkey. According to this CHP politician, the realities of Belgium, Egypt and Nigeria all exist — in some way — in Turkey. He noted further that while the CHP is able to pick up votes from the regions it considers Belgium, it was not able to get votes from the areas it sees as Egypt and Nigeria. The spots where the groups who wanted to head to Taksim clashed with police this May 1 were places such as BeIiktaI and Taksim. In other words, the Brussels-like areas of Istanbul. So if we follow the CHP mentality here, the May 1 Brussels-like celebrations and the general Turkish celebrations were different from one another. I really don’t think likening DiyarbakIr to Nigeria or Egypt is an accurate comparison, but what I do know is that the Civil Servants’ Trade Union (Memur-Sen)elebrations in DiyarbakIr were quite successful in their own way. The workers in the city not only celebrated their work and their labor, but also sent a message from Turkey to the rest of the world. Also, the celebrations in the Istanbul district of KadIky, Kayseri and EskiIehir were appropriate to the general meaning and nature of the May 1 holiday. There were no problems. In aance of the May 1 celebrations, many people were curious about what sort of stance Kurdish politics and Kurdish citizens would take on this day. Many people thought that the combination of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the more leftist HDP would mean that some Kurdish citizens would react with more sensitivity to May 1 and thus pour more noticeably into the streets of Istanbul on this date. In fact, some thought that this May 1 might even turn into a quasi-Gezi Park sort of event for Kurdish citizens living in the larger metropolitan areas, such as Istanbul. But these expectations turned out to be wrong. It appears that the same Kurds who were not heavily involved in the Gezi protests did not — despite announcements from both the BDP and the HDP — pour into the streets and city squares this May 1. The May 1 message from the people of Turkey to the opposition parties — from the CHP to the BDP and the HDP — was quite clear: “Give up trying to organize opposition on the streets. It is clear that there is no aantage to this, nor will there ever be.” And so one more May 1 has passed us by this year. There is no doubt that the best part of this year’s marking of the date is that at least there were no deaths.

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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