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May Day Rallies Held Across the Globe

  • VOA News

Workers around the world took to the streets Thursday to mark International Workers Day, also known as May Day, with marches and calls for higher pay and better working conditions.

In Istanbul, Turkey, police used tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators attempting to reach Taksim Square, the usual site of May Day rallies. One year ago, the massive May Day demonstrations there grew into a huge anti-government movement.

Public transportation in Istanbul has been severely restricted to prevent groups from coming to Taksim Square for May Day demonstrations.

The Turkish government denied approval for celebrations at Taksim square for safety reasons, and suggested the traditional gathering should take place at a special venue on the outskirts of Istanbul rather than the city center.

Unions rejected the idea.

The authorities issued a similar ban last year, leading to thousands of anti-government protesters fighting with police as they tried to breach barricades around the huge square.

In 1977, 37 people were killed during May Day celebrations in the square when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a crowd of thousands.

More than 100 people were injured.

In 2010, the ruling AK Party government allowed Taksim Square to be opened for May Day rallies for the first time since the deadly 1977 rally.

In Moscow, Russian workers marched on Red Square in a patriotic display. Marchers held signs reading "I'm proud of my country" and "We believe our president." The parade on Red Square was the first since the early 1990's.

Rallies also took place across Asia. Thousands of workers and activists took to the streets in Manila to demand wage increases amid rising living costs.

In Cambodia, garment factory workers demanding higher wages and better working conditions rallied in Phnom Penh.

Some information was contributed by Reuters.