May Day 2012 in Turkey: Marching with UID-DER

Hundreds of thousands of workers joined May Day demonstrations in various cities and towns across Turkey. The central demonstration was the one in Istanbul which was the biggest one. Around 200,000 toilers joined the demo and the Taksim Square was packed. Many contingents were unable to enter the Square for many hours.

UID-DER contingent was one of the most vibrant and massive contingents in the demonstration with a strong working-class stance. Workers from diverse industries, in a disciplined stance reflecting their fighting spirit with red shirts and hats, formed an impressive column under UID-DER banner. Building on the campaign under the main slogan “Raise Wages, Reduce Working Hours!” launched before May Day, UID-DER not only organised many workers and drew them to May Day but also attracted a great interest from workers during the march and rally.

There have been many speeches, working class songs, poems and slogans chanted from the top of UID-DER minibus of sound equipment, which accompanied the UID-DER column during the whole march. We expressed our determination not to bow down before the assaults of the capitalist system, its governments and policies.

UID-DER column was not only a place of vibrancy and class discipline but also of internationalism. While the Iranian and Japanese working classes were greeted, the democratic demands of Kurdish people were given a clear support. Kurdish people were greeted with the slogan “Freedom for Kurdish People” chanted in unison. In the speeches during the march there were many demands expressed such as: “Stop Repression of Alevis”, “Freedom of Faith”, “Lift the Bans on Headscarf and Use of Mother Tongue”, “Stop Compulsory Religious Classes”, “Lift the Restrictions on Unionisation and Political Freedoms”, “Full Rights of Association, Strike and Press”.

There were three banners in the front of our column, which read “Raise Wages, Reduce Working Hours”, “Capitalism at Impasse, Solution is Workers’ Power”, “Stop Imperialist Wars, Stop Political Repression of Union and Political Activities”. And the banner in the rear read “Workers of all Lands, Unite!” There were many placards in the front section of the column expressing various demands of the working class. Among them were those ones that express solidarity with Kurdish people and Iranian working class. The ones about Iranian working class such as “Peace in the Middle East Will Come through Workers’ Power”, “Stop Repression of Iranian Working Class”, “Free Jailed Workers in Iran” were bilingual (Turkish and Farsi).

Among the slogans we frequently chanted during the march were: “Long Live May Day, Long Live Socialism”, “UID-DER marches forward, the Struggle Grows”, “We are the Ones in Factories, in Fields, Our Hands Create Life”, “Higher Wages, Lower Working Day”, “Millions in Hunger, Millions Jobless, This is your Capitalist System”, “We Will Bring Down the Capitalist System, and Build a Classless Society”, “Workers of All Lands, Unite!”, “Free Education, Free Healthcare, Free Housing, Free Urban Transportation”

Meeting with Iranian Workers in the Square

The vibrant and disciplined march of UID-DER column ended in entering the Taksim Square with applause from thousands of workers in the surrounding part of the Square. There was a great interest to see and hear UID-DER column. In the Square UID-DER was joined by Iranian workers who are refugees in Turkey. They were carrying a banner with the slogan “Workers of All Lands, Unite!” written on it. We welcomed them with a speech:

“Migrant Iranian workers are among us. We wholeheartedly welcome them. The working class in Iran is under increasing repression. Working and living conditions are getting worse. Workers in Iran are not permitted to organise, get unionised and involved in political activities. All workers and especially those leading ones to get organised, unionised and involved in independent political activities for their own class interests face heavy repression. The Mullah regime arrest workers, leaders of workers, torture and imprison them. We, as UID-DER, which upholds national and international unity of the working class, cry out that the Iranian working class is not alone. We have launched a signature campaign to boost international solidarity and free those arrested workers in Iran. We send our greetings to our class brothers and sisters in Iran; they should know that they are not alone.”

At the end of the speech we chanted the slogans “Long Live International Solidarity”, “Iranian Workers are not Alone”, “Workers of all Lands, Unite!”

Workers who support UID-DER will continue their struggle against the capitalist system in an internationalist spirit and with the enthusiasm of May Day.

Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!

We Will Bring Down the Capitalist System, Build a Classless Society!

2 May 2012