May Day in ole Stamboul

Taksim Square 2007 May Day IstanbulWell, yesterday (2007) was May Day in ole Stamboul and was also the 30th anniversary of a 1977 May Day demonstration in which over 30 people died as a result of a shooting and a stampede.

As you can see from this web page, not all went smoothly…

Turkish police break up May Day protest as “Police sprayed tear gas, used a water cannon and clubbed demonstrators to clear crowds from around Taksim Square. About 600 people were arrested.”

I left the house at 2:20 to catch my normal ferry to Besiktas but found out that Besiktas ferry station, one of the largest transportation hubs in the city, was CLOSED!! So I had to go on to Eminönü, the ferry stop closest to Sultanahmet, the old city next to the Golden Horn. (you can find some of this on Google Earth) On the way to Eminönü, I could see the blue and white chopper circling Taksim square, probably cheering the cops on and all. At Eminönü, cops were in evidence everywhere and this was a long way from Taksim. I tried to get several taxis to take me to the school and none of them would. So I started to walk, at the Golden Horn/Galata bridge, cops were checking bags and patting down everyone walking across the bridge. Tens of thousands of people walk across this bridge daily… Same on the other side.

I thought I would take the old Tünel funicular (subway) up to Beyoğlu but it was also closed, so now, this old man, who has been sick for over three weeks and almost never left the house except for classes is walking up the Galata tower hill, a San Francisco type hill, very steep. Cops everywhere…

I got to the top and at the Tünel station the riot police (robocops) were in their neat little military formations. I guess they were the reserves in case the main force could not handle things OK in Taksim square which is more than a mile away. I decided to take the side streets–a good choice, the cops were keeping everyone off of the main drag called Istiklal Caddesi, which is the busiest pedestrian thoroughfare in the city and is usually crammed with thousands of shoppers and others.

So, 45 minutes later, I arrived at work, a bit winded, my legs sore, and my cough still lingering. I had a lesson that night which went uneventful except that only two students showed up.

Ahhh, all in a day in Istanbul. By the way, the Turkish supreme court invalidated a parliamentary vote for President on the same day, the stock market has been going crazy and the lira bouncing all over the place. What a boring place your city must seem what with the shoppers and their cappuccinos…

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