Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Foreign embassies warnover risk of violence in Istanbul

Several foreign missions have warned their citizens over the risk of violence in Istanbul on May 1. The US embassy specifically warned of the “potential for violent confrontation between demonstrators and security personnel”. Istanbul braced for a major security lockdown for May Day on Sunday, with almost 25,000 police on duty and numerous roads closed for an occasion that regularly sees clashes between Turkish protesters and police. Security measures are already evident in Taksim Square — a focus for protests in the past — with metal security barriers lining the roads and dozens of anti-riot police present, an AFP correspondent said. The authorities, as in previous years, have refused to allow a sanctioned protest to take place on Taksim Square, meaning clashes are highly probable. On May 1 last year, Turkish police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse May Day protesters in Istanbul, while police and demonstrators engaged in pitched battles in some areas. Taksim has been a flashpoint for clashes on Labour Day since dozens of people were killed there on May 1, 1977 when modern Turkey was going through one of its most turbulent periods.



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