May Day protests: Turkey arrests hundreds as rallies sweep globe

Turkish police have arrested more than 200 people for holding unauthorised protests on May Day, which has seen rallies across the world despite the continued spread of Covid-19.

The protesters in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, were caught breaching restrictions imposed to curb a third wave of coronavirus.

Marches led by workers and unions are held on 1 May every year as part of International Labour Day celebrations in many countries.

This year, the rallies took place once again against the backdrop of a pandemic that has destroyed livelihoods and upended economies worldwide.

Riot police take position next to a burning barricade during a protest on May Day in Berlin, GermanyIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionGerman riot police stepped in to break up rallies in Berlin that were deemed to be in breach of Covid-19 restrictions

Labour activists face police as they take part in a protest on May Day or International Workers' Day in Turin, ItalyIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionLabour unions traditionally lead rallies worldwide on 1 May, such as this one in Turin

In many countries, police were deployed in large numbers to deal with possible disorder and ensure coronavirus restrictions were observed.

Scaled-back rallies were held in Germany, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Cuba, Colombia, the Philippines, Indonesia and many other countries. Most demonstrations were peaceful.

Police officers take a protester into custody in Stockholm, SwedenIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES

image captionSwedish police officers take a protester into custody in Stockholm

French anti riot Police forces face protesters as clashes erupt during the annual May Day march in ParisIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionTensions were high in many cities, such as Paris, as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt

But Turkey was among several countries where police were embroiled in May Day protests that turned violent on Saturday.

The office of Istanbul’s governor said 212 people had been arrested after they broke away from marches and tried to enter Taksim Square, a symbolic area of protest.

Pictures showed chaotic scenes in which police used their shields to push back crowds and dragged some protesters away from the square.

The country went into its first full pandemic lockdown earlier this week, in a bid to curb a surge in infections and deaths.

Riot police officers detain demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim SquareIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionRiot police detained demonstrators as they attempted to march on Taksim Square in Istanbul

Turkish riot police officers scuffle with demonstratorsIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionScuffles between riot police and demonstrators broke out in the Turkish city

In France, at least 46 people were arrested in the capital, Paris, after some marchers clashed with riot police, threw stones, smashed windows and set fire to rubbish bins.

French government agencies condemned one protester who was pictured assaulting a firefighter as they attempted to extinguish a blaze in the capital.

The Interior Ministry said more than 106,000 people marched at almost 300 rallies organised in Paris and other cities, including Lyon, Nantes, Lille and Toulouse.

The protesters voiced their opposition to government plans to change unemployment benefits and demanded economic justice.

French riot police stand in formation during clashes with protesters in FranceIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionRiot police were out in force in the French capital

A "Yellow vest" protester gestures near a fire during the traditional May Day protests in FranceIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionBarricades were set alight in the streets of Paris

Similar demands were heard in Germany, where May Day protests were held nationwide despite the introduction of tougher Covid-19 rules last week.

In the capital, Berlin, thousands of police were deployed to monitor multiple demonstrations, including one organised by a group that opposes the government’s coronavirus strategy.

An estimated 10,000 cyclists staged a peaceful anti-capitalist protest in the city.

But as darkness fell, the mood grew more tense as protesters set barricades alight and confronted police who were trying to enforce Covid-19 regulations at a left-wing demonstration.

Demonstrators attend a protest on their bicycles in BerlinIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES

image captionWorkers of the wheels united for an anti-capitalist protest in Berlin

People gather for a protest on May Day in BerlinIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionLarge crowds were seen in Berlin, where protests were held in defiance of Covid-19 restrictions

Police arrest protesters during demonstration against the German government Coronavirus measuresIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionGerman police were pictured dragging some protesters away in the capital

Police officers look on behind burning objects during a left-wing May Day demonstration in BerlinIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionBerlin police broke up a left-wing demonstration, prompting a reaction from some protesters

Coronavirus was on the agenda in Indonesia as well.

At one rally, protesters in the capital of Jakarta laid mock graves on the street to symbolise the human toll of the pandemic.

A member of an Indonesian labour organization lies down during a May Day rallyIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionMock graves were laid in the street at one May Day rally in Indonesia

Members of Indonesian labour organizations join a May Day rally in KarawangIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionRallies were held in multiple cities across Indonesia

Labour Day celebrations were unusually muted in Cuba, where workers gather for large events to commemorate the communist revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959.

But for the second year running, Cuba called off its May Day march though Havana’s Plaza de la Revolution Square, as the country battles Covid-19 and an economic crisis.

Instead, a small number of national leaders gathered at largely empty public spaces, while citizens were urged to celebrate at home.

A banner displaying the portrait of late Cuban President Fidel Castro hangs on the street in downtown Havana, CubaIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionCuba’s May Day celebrations had little of the usual pomp and circumstance

Workers of a state company shout slogans during celebrations of Labour DayIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionLabour Day is one of the biggest events of the year in Cuba

In Brussels, Belgium’s capital, officers trying to clear a dance rave from a park used water cannon, pepper spray and batons as some of the partygoers pelted them with eggs.

During the commotion, one demonstrator was knocked unconscious after they were struck by a water cannon truck, local media said.

Dubbed La Boum 2 (The Party 2), the event was a sequel to a fake concert that drew thousands of people after it was announced on social media as an April Fools’ Day joke.

A man is doused by a water cannon during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park in BrusselsIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

image captionPolice used water cannon to clear the park of revellers in Brussels

Protesters and police clash during a gathering to protest against the government-imposed anti-Covid measures in BrusselsIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionThe Brussels event was organised in part as a protest against the government’s coronavirus measures

Meanwhile, a proposed law that would give police extra powers to curb protests was one of the main subjects of grievance at protests in the UK.

Hundreds gathered in London to protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which activists fear would be used to curb dissent.

Demonstrators during a march through central London during a "Kill the Bill" protest in LondonIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionThe «Kill the Bill» protest saw thousands of demonstrators march through London

Demonstrators let off flares during a march through central LondonIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA

image captionSome protesters set off red flares during the London march against the policing bill

All photographs subject to copyrighthttps://www.bbc.com/

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