Victims of 1977 May Day massacre commemorated at Taksim, Istanbul

The victims of the deadly police attack on May Day demonstration 43 years ago have been commemorated at Istanbul's Taksim Square today.

At the Taksim Square in Istanbul the victims of May 1, 1977 massacre have been commemorated today. Due to the Corona pandemic, the commemoration took place only with a symbolic participation. Representatives of political parties and democratic mass organisations were present, including HDP MP Musa Piroğlu and Istanbul HDP co-chair Elif Bulut.

May 1, 1977 represents a turning point in the history of the labour movement in Turkey. Well over 500,000 people took part in the May Day demonstration. Many of them had not even entered the square when the first shots were fired. Then the security forces attacked the crowd with armoured vehicles. They fired tear gas grenades and used water cannons. The number of victims is still a controversial issue; according to official figures, 37 people were killed and 200 injured, while over 500 people were arrested.

Taksim Square has acquired a high symbolic meaning for the left in Turkey through this massacre. "We do not forget the massacre of May 1, 1977", was written on a banner unfurled at today's commemoration ceremony, which was opened with a minute's silence. In a joint statement it was recalled that no one had been condemned for the bloodshed at the time.

On behalf of the crowd, Nimet Tanrikulu vowed that Taksim as the central location for May Day events would never be abandoned. Unions and leftist movements try every year to stage May Day rallies in the square. Since 1977, demonstrations have been banned almost every year. This year, decentralized actions have been announced due to the pandemic.