Istanbul police clash with May Day protesters | News | DW | 01.05.2015
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Istanbul police clash with May Day protesters

Turkish police have cracked down on activists in Istanbul over fears of unrest on May Day. The authorities have put the city under a security lockdown, blocking roads and closing public transport.

Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon against protesters who had gathered in the Besiktas district of Istanbul on Friday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The authorities moved in on the gathering in the district close to the Bosphorus, a strait which divides Asia and Europe.

The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the security lockdown over fears of unrest ahead of Turkey's June 7 legislative elections.

Tensions had been running high in the morning, with activists defying a ban on demonstrations at Taksim Square.

Istanbul's protest hub was the scene of deadly anti-government clashes in May and June 2013.

"I wish May 1 to be celebrated in a festive mood without provocations," Erdogan said in a statement.

Opposition parties and unions called on the government to lift the ban.

Peaceful protests spiraled out of control

The 2013 Taksim protests started as a peaceful sit-in against plans to redevelop Gezi Park, a green public space in the corner of the square.

A police crackdown on the demonstration spiraled into weeks of nationwide unrest against Erdogan's rule.

The authorities erected barricades around Taksim Square on Friday to prevent a repeat of the deadly clashes two years ago.

Public access was blocked, however, and the barricades were set on fire in protest.

Istanbul's police chief Selami Altinok was cited as saying 136 people had been arrested around the city ahead of clashes in the Besiktas district.

1. Mai Proteste Ausschreitungen in Istanbul

Plainclothes policemen detain protesters during clashes in the Besiktas district of Istanbul

Reuters reported that several others were detained after demonstrators threw stones and bottles at police and set off fireworks.

In the capital, Ankara, tens of thousands also gathered, however, the mood was lighter, with dancing and singing, according to Reuters.

lw/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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