May Day, celebrated on the first day of May every year, has long been a symbolic day for workers’ rights around the world.
But May Day 2018 turned out to be a day of violent clashes between police and protesters, as both left-wing and right-wing activists took to the streets with fire and fists, from Paris to Istanbul.
The idea of May 1 as a day for workers’ rights was born in the US city of Chicago, where on May 1, 1886 hundreds of thousands of people walked off the job to protest long hours and harsh working conditions.
Eight years later, then-president Grover Cleveland moved the original, US version of Labour Day to September, and Americans now celebrate their Monday off as more of a work vacation than a call to action.
But 66 other countries around the world still celebrate the May 1 rite of spring as International Workers’ Day, with strikes for workers’ rights. And in recent years, far-right groups and Neo-Nazis have also decided to use the opportunity to raise their voices.
Take a look at how people celebrated, protested, and picketed at May Day celebrations around the world this year:
Protesters in the Philippines burned a sculpture of President Rodrigo Duterte during a May Day rally outside the presidential palace in Manila.
Trade unions are angry that companies can still hand out short-term contracts that don’t provide stable benefits to workers. Duterte promised to do away with the practice on the campaign trail in 2016.
In Berlin, the crowd was largely pro-union and anti-capitalism.
“We have more rich and even richer people than we ever had before,” protester Aimo Tuegel told the Associated Press. “On the other hand, work and working conditions for workers are continuing to get worse.”
In Paris, union marchers took to the streets to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s months-old economic reforms, which are aimed at making it easier for companies to hire and fire employees. But they weren’t alone.
Hooded and masked anarchists were in the Parisian streets too, smashing windows, throwing cobblestones, and lighting cars on fire.
More than 200 protesters were arrested and at least four people, including one police officer, were injured in the violence,Reuters reported.
In Istanbul, some protesters shouted “long live May 1.”
Dozens of people were detained in the Turkish city after trying to enter a square the police deemed off-limits to protests, according to the Associated Press.
Taksim square is a symbolic spot for labour unions in Turkey: 34 people were killed there on May 1, 1977 while celebrating May Day.
Neo-Nazis and far-right leaning groups in Germany have also started using the day to stage demonstrations of their own.
Violent clashes between left and right-wing protesters have been breaking out on May 1 in cities like Hamburg and Berlin for decades, according to Deutsche Welle.
And in Warsaw, Poland, this supporter of the far-right National-Radical Camp (ONR) raised his hand.
In Switzerland, the day was marked by more playful protests, as clowns wiped down a Swiss police car in Zurich.
But in Taipei, Taiwan no one was laughing as workers took to the streets to protest their long hours.
Russians also celebrated their own Labour Day in Moscow, but some who were there to raise awareness for mental health issues were violently arrested, according to the English-language weekly paper, The Moscow Times.
Source: The Moscow Times
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