Turkish police arrested dozens of people and fired rubber bullets as anti-government protesters tried to breach a ban on access to the main Taksim Square in Istanbul to mark May Day. Francis Maguire reports.
Firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Turkish police breaking up May Day demonstrators in Istanbul on Monday (May 1). Detaining more than 200 people around the city, following protests on the annual worker's holiday. Unions had said they wouldn't attempt to march on Taksim Square a traditional rallying point for anti-government protests which is off-limits for demonstrators. But that didn't stop a group trying to reach the area, only to be met by riot police who had a heavy presence across the city. Tensions are particulary high after President Tayyip Erdogan's narrow referendum win last month gave him sweeping new powers. Since the win, Erdogan has conducted two purges, targeting the police, civil service and military. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS HIGH COMMISSIONER, ZEID RA'AD AL-HUSSEIN, SAYING: "By some accounts, up to a staggering 150,000 civil servants have been suspended and, just last week, 10,000 police officers were reportedly suspended, a thousand of whom were detained. Over the week-end, another 4,000 public officials were reportedly sacked, including 1,000 justice ministry staff. With such a large number, it is highly unlikely that the suspensions and detentions will have met due process standards." Erdogan says the measures are necessary given the security threats facing Turkey. Authorities also blocking access to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia over the weekend. Citing a law allowing the banning of access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.