Tear Gas and Molotov Cocktails Mark Labor Day Celebrations in 2017: Photos

Published May 2nd, 2017 - 03:13 GMT
Demonstrators clash with riot police in Turkey's capital, Istanbul. (AFP)
Demonstrators clash with riot police in Turkey's capital, Istanbul. (AFP)

Thousands of workers in several countries have engaged in clashes with riot police as they marked International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day.

Germany and Italy

In the German capital, Berlin, 40 arrests were made on Monday amid scuffles between the police and demonstrators demanding better rights for workers.

The demonstrators set ablaze a police car and wounded two officers. According to reports, protesters threw smoke bombs in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.

Read more: Germany Vows To 'Empower' Women In Saudi Arabia With $200-million Fund

As many as 5,400 police officers were deployed around the city.

Elsewhere in Europe, the protests turned even uglier in the northern city of Turin, Italy, where dozens of people were injured after clashing with riot police. 

Clashes in Istanbul

In Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, May Day demonstrations turned violent as a number of activist groups that had attempted to reach the cordoned-off area of central Taksim Square faced police's tear gas and rubber bullets.

Some protesters in Istanbul hurled Molotov cocktails and fireworks at the police forces, who detained over 200 protesters.

“Some illegal groups who want to damage the peace and safety of our people attempted illegal marches and demonstrations, primarily around Taksim Square ... under the pretext of May Day celebrations,” said a statement released by government.

It added that police had seized some 40 Molotov cocktails, 17 hand grenades, 176 fireworks, "and lots of illegal posters" from the demonstrators.

Police arrest demonstrators as they march during May Day, in Istanbul, Turkey, May 1, 2017. 

Taksim Square was the traditional site for Labor Day rallies until 1977, when tens of demonstrators lost their lives during rallies in clashes with riot police. The square was reopened for celebrations in the late 2000s, but demonstrators were again banned from marching to it in 2013.

Strike in Greece

Some 10,000 demonstrators in the capital Athens took to the streets and another 3,500 rallied in Thessaloniki, the country's second largest city, on Monday to mark International Workers' Day.

Trade unions in Greece marked the occasion with a 24-hour nationwide strike in a bid to express their dissent with the looming austerity measures to be applied by the government, as demanded by country's creditors in exchange for bailout cash.

"Bailout government and the creditors have been squeezing the people and workers for seven years," said civil servants' union Adedy.

As a result of the strike, businesses crippled, ferries and trains were suspended and state services were shut down.

Nearly seven years of austerity have culminated in a spike in poverty levels in Greece. The southeastern European country also has the highest unemployment rate - 23 percent - in the European Union (EU).

Read more: Turkey's Inflation Rate Still Stuck In Double-digit Territory

Authorities in Greece have severely reduced government spending, frozen hiring, and slashed incomes to keep receiving the rescue loans to shore up Greece’s ailing economy.

Labor Day clashes in France

Thousands of people, from all ages, held a massive rally in central Paris to mark May Day on Monday. Although the demonstration was largely peaceful, dozens of masked protesters clashes with police along the route. Reports say that at least three police officers sustained injuries in the clashes.

A large number of police personnel were already deployed to control the rallies, which first gathered at the Republique Square and then marched toward the Bastille Square before ending up at the Nation Square.  

The march was held a week before holding the decisive second round of France's presidential election.

Read more: France's Next President Will Have To Fix Its 'Ailing' Economy

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, 39, and far-right Marine Le Pen, 48, won the first round of voting in the presidential election on April 23. Macron finished first on 24 percent, ahead of Le Pen with 21.3 percent. They will now have to contend in the runoff, scheduled for May 7.

Protests in the Philippines and Cambodia

In the Philippines' capital city of Manila, hundreds of activists clashed with riot police as they tried to force their way to the US embassy as part of their May Day demonstrations on Monday.


Anti-riot police block the road to the US embassy in the Philippines' capital, Manila, May 1, 2017.

Over a thousand protesting workers in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, also marked the occasion as they gathered at a blocked street in the vicinity of the National Assembly, calling for better conditions.

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