May Day rally in Istanbul in 2011.
May Day rally in Istanbul in 2011.

Turkish police and government are bracing for massive May Day rallies on Tuesday, with an expected contingent of 14,000 police officers to be deployed in Istanbul to ensure security.

The Mayor of Istanbul Hüseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters: “The Istanbul Police Department has taken the necessary measures to ensure a peaceful demonstration that will cause no problems to either demonstrators or other people in the demonstration areas.”

Security officials will also be deployed across nearby cities, including Sakarya, Kocaeli and Bal?kesir.

Mutlu added: “I wholeheartedly congratulate our workers on this special day. And I sincerely hope this day will be celebrated in such a way that workers' solidarity, problems and demands will be properly expressed.”

However, there is concern that this May Day demonstration -- which will largely be held in Taksim Square in the city’s Beyoglu district -- may feature some acts of violence since it will mark the 35th anniversary of the so-called ‘Taksim Massacre’ of 1977.

On that May Day, in which an estimated half a million works and others rallied, almost 40 people were killed and hundreds wounded by unknown shooting assailants in a tragedy that officially remains a mystery.

Although 500 demonstrators were arrested in connection with the 1977 massacre, only 98 were indicted on formal charges and no one was ever convicted.

Turkey of the 1970s was scarred by waves of violence and political unrest which ultimately led to the military coup of 1980.

Authorities had banned May Day celebrations in Istanbul until
2010. The celebration that year was largely peaceful, as was the rally in 2011, save from some minor disturbances.

Several prominent trade unions, including the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers' Unions (DISK) and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) will participate in the rally. DISK was a major organizer of the 1977 rally.

However, it is not only trade unions and workers who will rally on May Day.

Radical Islamist youth will also attend the demonstration in order to protest against capitalism.

A Turkish group calling itself “Revolutionary Islamists has engaged social media and plans a big appearance in Taksim on Tuesday.

“We will be at Taksim Square on May 1 to be the screams of workers burned to death at mall construction sites, drowned in dam lakes and children raped in prisons; to ask why [Armenian writer] Hrant [Dink], the villagers in Uludere/Roboski, Ceylan and many others were killed, the group said in a statement.

Moreover, a religious author named Ihsan Eliacik, told Turkish media that he will participate in a rally called “Fight Against Capitalism.”

A member of that group, Zeynep Duygu, told reporters: “We as Muslims have remained silent in the wake of many events in the past. We aim to break this silence and bring forth the [revolutionary] aspect of Islam in order to face ourselves.”