Turkey arrests more than 200 people for holding May Day protest

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Turkish police detained more than 200 people who were trying to hold a May Day rally in Istanbul on Saturday in defiance of a ban related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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They were caught as they tried to walk to Taksim Square, a traditional area of protest, AFP correspondents said, and in other areas nearby including the popular Istiklal Avenue.

The Istanbul governor’s office later on Saturday said 212 people were detained.

Police officers pushed a crowd back forcefully using their shields, while other officers dragged protesters away, a correspondent said.

Turkey has been under a full lockdown since April 29 with a third wave of the virus causing record numbers of daily deaths. Some 394 people died of Covid-19 in Turkey on Friday, official data showed.

There are often detentions during the annual May 1 workers’ holiday.

Taksim has been a flashpoint on May Day with frequent clashes since 34 people were killed there on May 1, 1977 during an unstable period in modern Turkey’s history.

A small group led by the Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions attended an officially-approved event at Taksim Square.

At least 11 people were also detained in Ankara after trying to hold May Day demonstrations, local media reported.

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