Demonstrators took to the streets around the world to commemorate May Day and demand greater protections and opportunities for workers. The event was founded in the United States to demand that the work day be restricted to eight hours. Also known as International Workers’ Day, May Day demonstrators adapt marches and protests to highlight various socio-economic issues and political grievances.
Protests became particular violent in Istanbul, Turkey, where police fired tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of protesters who gathered and threw stones. Hundreds took to the city’s Taksim Square during a months-long protest in 2013 after demands to maintain a park transformed into public outcry against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. May Day protesters returned to the Square despite a day-long government ban on entering the area. Nearly 140 people have been detained, although activists claim the number is nearly double that.
Protesters also clashed with police in South Korea where thousands of riot police created barricades and shot water cannons laced with chemical irritants to prevent about 10,000 workers from marching towards the offices of the country’s president. The workers threatened an “all-out general strike” if Preisdent Park Guen-Hye’s government pushes through reforms that it argues would create flexibility in the labor market. Workers see the legislation as a move to diminish their rights on the job.
Several thousand people marched in anti-capitalist protests in Berlin, Germany, where, at noon, activists unveiled statues of the government whistleblowers and free speech activists Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning. The statues, which were all posed atop chairs, were presented as part of a project called “Anything to Say,” and included one empty chair for people to stand on and express their own views.
In France, activists with the controversial FEMEN activist group stormed a May Day rally staged by the far right Front National party. Two topless women with the words “Heil Le Pen” and “Le Pen TOP fascist” painted across their bodies in a move to liken the party’s president, Marine Le Pen, to a Nazi.
Below are more images from May Day protests around the world.