Police use tear gas, water cannon against Istanbul May Day protesters

ISTANBUL (Turkey) (AFP) – Turkish police on Friday used water cannon and tear gas to disperse May Day protesters in Istanbul as tens of thousands of labour activists turned out worldwide to defend their rights at a time of austerity.

Turkish police had blocked all vehicle access and cut public transport to prevent protests on Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul, the traditional focus for protests in the country’s largest city.

Police moved in on the protesters close to the shores of the Bosphorus as they tried to head towards the square, using water cannon trucks and spraying tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.

Even before the police moved in on the Besiktas protesters, Istanbul’s police chief Selami Altinok had said that 136 people had been arrested in various points in the city during the day.

This is the first May Day in Turkey, a national holiday in the country, to be marked after parliament passed a controversial security bill this year giving the police greater powers to crack down on protests…

…Turkish media said 20,000 police had been deployed in Istanbul backed up by 62 water cannon trucks.

The blocking of traffic left some locals with long walks to carry out their business while travellers carrying heavy luggage were stranded as they sought a ride to the airport.

In an apparent bid to discourage protests, the city’s main metro line was halted well before Taksim and services on the city tram service were stopping halfway.

Taksim Square, usually thronged with thousands of people in the day, was deserted save for police, journalists and plain clothes security agents…



Turkey’s May Day dog kicked by officer, chases police

After a Turkish policeman kicked him during a May Day demo in Istanbul, a stray dog has chased a patrol car, in scenes that went viral on social media.

The stray dog was kicked away by a policeman who was detaining a protester near Taksim Square on May 1. Soon after the incident, the dog started to chase a police car at the square, barking.

As the episode triggered an avalanche of comments on Turkish social media during the tense May Day, several users claimed that the dog was “Garip,” who had found fame after being photographed during the Gezi Park protests in 2013. (Video at link)