Turkey clashes mar global May Day holiday

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Turkish riot police clashed on Sunday with protesters and detained scores during a May Day rally, as tens of thousands marched across Europe in support of workers’ rights.

AFP images showed protesters being pinned to the ground and dragged away from the rally in Istanbul, which the governor’s office said was unauthorised. Turkish police regarded the attempt to hold a rally as enough of a reason to detain more than 160 people in central Istanbul.

The authorities said the protesters had refused to disperse despite police warnings. Elsewhere in Turkey, crowds flocked to government-approved rallies, which passed off peacefully.

May 1 is a public holiday in many countries across the world and Sunday saw rallies from Athens to Colombo. Latin America was bracing for large crowds too, the region’s biggest cities traditionally hosting many thousands on Labour Day.

The event is massive in France, and cities across the country were filled. Paris rallies quickly turned violent with youths breaking from the main march and clashing with police, who charged en masse to disperse the troublemakers.

Windows of shops and offices were smashed in Paris and in the western city of Nantes. Protesters told AFP they wanted to send a message to Emmanuel Macron, recently re-elected for a second five-year term as president after seeing off the challenge of far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Martine Haccoun, a 65-year-old retired doctor, said she came to protest in the southern city of Marseille “to show Macron that we didn’t give him a blank cheque for five years”. She said many voted for Macron simply to stop Le Pen. French unions joined together to appeal for better pay and social protections, common calling cards for protesters around Europe.

While scuffles were reported in Italian cities including Turin, crowds of thousands gathered in London and cities across Germany with no sign of trouble. In Spain, some 10,000 joined a demonstration in Madrid and unions called for protests in dozens of other cities, some of them attracting thousands.—AFP

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