In the world-wide demonstrations and protests held to mark International Labour Day, only in Turkey did things get out of hand. Police used water cannons and tear gas on demonstrators heading for Taksim Square.
Why? Because their demonstration was ‘illegal’. Why? Well, easy: the authorities prohibited a Labour Day march, officially because there were fears that ‘small groups’ would try to turn it into a violent demonstration, but of course that’s nonsense. Even if a small group of people threatens to disrupt a peaceful demonstration, that’s no reason to forbid thousands of people to express their opinions about solidarity among workers in general and changes in social security in particular.
Some say the governing AKP prohibited the march because they didn’t want a demonstration that would turn out into a big anti AKP rally. There’s a good chance it could have turned into an anti AKP rally, but well, so what? In fact, giving permission for the march would have given the AKP some kudos. Maybe they would even have found a potential ally in the labour unions. Now they have only proved that they don’t take freedom of expression very seriously.