Workers take to the streets in worldwide May Day protests

Workers, activists and others around the world took to the streets on Wednesday to mark May Day with protests over the pressure of rising prices and calls for greater labor rights. Pro-Palestinian sentiments were also on display.

Police in Istanbul used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse thousands of people who tried to break through a barricade and reach the main Taksim square in defiance of a ban on celebrating Labor Day there. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on social platform X at least 210 people were detained.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has long declared Taksim off-limits for demonstrations on security grounds, but the square holds symbolic value for labor unions. In 1977, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a May Day celebration at Taksim, causing a stampede and killing 34 people.

On Wednesday, a small group of trade union representatives was permitted to enter the square to lay a wreath at a monument to the victims.

May Day, which falls on May 1, is observed to celebrate workers’ rights. It's also an opportunity to air economic grievances or political demands. “Tax the rich,” one banner in Germany read. “Don't touch the eight-hour workday!” another read in Sri Lanka.

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