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May Day 2008 Reports and Pictures

Jakarta in front of the parliament building protesting repressive labour contracts
Paris "sans papiers"

Iraqi Communists demonstrate in Baghdad

Thousands in Bangkok demand higher wages and labour law reform

Istanbul where thousands of demonstrators fought back aganist

Police attack Unionists rally in front of the Brandenerg Gate in Berlin

Paris -CGT cortege

Tableaux celebrating miners struggles in Lebanese CP cortege,Beirut

Turkish Marxist-Leninist groups are always prominent

April 29: Papernas coalition held pre-May Day action to demand nationalisations
London "On May Day, a mix of rallies, violence and even hints of hope

Associated Press Reports
Berlin: Thousands of marchers gathered in Hamburg on May Day to call for more workers' rights, while protesters in Turkey were met with police batons and water cannon.

In Russia on Thursday, marchers called for economic equality, and in Cuba residents hoped their president would offer up more changes.

May 1 is known in Germany and elsewhere as the unofficial International Workers' Day and is typically marked with demonstrations and rallies that can sometimes turn violent.

In Istanbul, Turkish riot police used clubs, tear gas and water cannon to break up crowds of workers and students trying to reach a main square for a Labor Day rally that had been banned by the government.

Six police officers were injured and 467 demonstrators were detained. Thousands of police were on the street after Turkish unions said they would defy the government and hold May Day celebrations in Istanbul's Taksim square, which had been the scene of violent protests decades ago.

Officials set up barricades in and around the square where May Day celebrations have been banned since 1977, when unknown gunmen opened fire on demonstrators, causing a stampede that left several dozen dead.

"Long live May 1!" and "Everywhere is Taksim!" the protesters shouted Thursday, in addition to slogans denouncing the government.

Clashes also broke out at a rally in the capital, Ankara. Police fired tear gas to disperse a stone- and stick-throwing crowd. At least one person was rushed to hospital, suffering respiratory problems.

Japanese workers rally in Tokyo

In Germany, anti-capitalism protests in Hamburg on the eve of May Day turned to violence and vandalism, police said Thursday.

The night before May 1, known in Germany as Walpurgisnacht, is also an occasion for mischief. This year nearly 1,000 people attended a rally in Hamburg where protests against capitalism and in support of socialism quickly escalated into scattered violence and vandalism.

As many as 10,000 people were gathering for more rallies, including 800 registered to march in a parade for the far-right National Democratic Party. Leftist groups from across Germany were expected to mount a counter-demonstration.

High school students join workers in Paris

In Manila, thousands of Philippine workers marched to demand President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation for not raising the minimum wage to help them cope with surging food and fuel prices. Watched by riot police, two major groups of workers marched separately across Manila, waving red flags and placards, and then held noisy rallies at a downtown Manila square where musical bands and singers delighted the crowd.

About 30,000 people participated in rallies around Moscow, Russian police officials said. Members of the Kremlin-backed party United Russia marched down a main Moscow artery, carrying banners reading "Economic Growth Not Just For The Wealthy," "Putin and Medvedev are the Saviors of Higher Education" And "Say No to Higher Prices!"

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, meanwhile, led a procession of red, hammer-and-sickle flags and portraits of Lenin and Stalin over a bridge toward the Kremlin.

The holiday has lost much of its significance for most Russians since the Soviet era, when May 1 was a major celebration of worker solidarity and Soviet might. Most people now use the holiday to spend a long weekend at their country homes.

In Havana, hundreds of thousands of Cubans were expected to gather in Revolution Plaza for May Day amid hopes the government would announce more small changes to daily life on the communist-run island.


President Raul Castro, who has erased a string of much-despised restrictions on daily life during his first two months in office, is expected to attend celebrations honoring the world's workers. Officials did not say if he would speak.

May Day clashes and anger over food prices

May 1

ISTANBUL (AFP) — Police firing pepper gas and water cannons clashed with union activists in Istanbul on Thursday, as workers around the world made soaring food prices their May Day battle cry.

In Cuba meanwhile, President Raul Castro also led hundreds of thousands of Cubans summoned to Havana's Revolution Square, although the focus of that rally was the future of the country after a change of leadership there for the first time in over half a century.

Clashes erupted as hundreds of police surrounded the main square in Turkey's biggest city to stop a planned rally.

Police detained 505 people in the Istanbul clashes. The police assault forced demonstrators into a building where they crowded windows, chanting "We are the people, we are right, we will win."

Six police and two demonstrators were injured, according to officials quoted by Anatolia news agency.

Volatile crowds also staged rallies in the Philippines' capital of Manila and Indonesia's Jakarta, carrying signs demanding "Jobs, Justice, Food" and "Lower Food Prices Now."

Sharply rising prices for staples such as rice were the focus of many demonstrations in Asia, where rallies were patrolled by huge numbers of police.

Jakarta police chief Adang Firman told reporters after monitoring the capital from a helicopter that 10,000 security personnel had been deployed and another 50,000 were on standby.

Elite police commandos armed with assault rifles were positioned on highways leading to Manila.

In Singapore and Bangkok, protesters waved signs reading "Expensive rice prices, cheap labour wages. How can labourers live?"

The benchmark Thai rice variety now fetches some 1,000 dollars a tonne, three times more than a year ago.

Fears over fuel prices were also on people's minds, with about 44,000 people attending a rally in Tokyo where Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii railed against the government for reinstating a controversial petrol tax.

In Havana, meanwhile, Raul Castro sat listening in his four-star general's military uniform as Salvador Valdes, leader of the lone Workers' Union, called on some 11 million compatriots to "ratify our decision to continue on the path set out by the founder of the Cuban Revolution, Comrade Fidel (Castro)."

Castro, 76, replaced his ailing brother Fidel, 81, as president in February. Many analysts say Raul Castro is under intense pressure to deliver improvements in Cubans' standard of living.

In communist China, business came to a standstill as China celebrated the national holiday. Huge traffic jams blocked some roads out of Beijing and the expressway to the Great Wall had tailbacks at least 20 kilometres (12 miles) long.

More than two million people joined Mayday demonstrations in 1,000 towns across Russia, Ria Novosti news agency said, with worries about soaring prices overshadowing official calls for unity a week ahead of Vladimir Putin's departure from the Kremlin.

In Germany, tensions over a neo-Nazi party forced a major security operation to separate rival rallies in Nuremberg and Hamburg.

In Greece, transport and public services ground to a halt as unions called a 24-hour May Day strike against a privatization drive and pensions reform.

Ferry boats and intercity trains were reduced to a minimum, all train connections to foreign destinations were cancelled and state carrier Olympic Airlines carried out only one flight per destination.

No newspapers were published while radio and television stations operated on reduced staff, the main journalists' union ESIEA said.

France's interior ministry told AFP almost 120,000 people came out across the country as calls were made for higher wages and pensions, upping the pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy to tackle rising living costs.

In South Africa, ANC leader Jacob Zuma told a rally that state social security aid for 12 million citizens is now "under strain due to the rising cost of living."

African trade unions meanwhile called for a cancellation of interim trade accords with the EU that replaced preferential tariff agreements early this year.

The International Trade Union Confederation-Africa's secretary general Kwasi Adu-Amankwah said the richer European Union arm-twisted Africa into the deals.

Burundi bucked the international trends, deciding to delay labour day celebrations to allow the overwhelmingly Christian population to mark Ascension Day on Thursday.

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