Individuals in Turkey should anticipate heightened security measures as well as transportation and service disruptions on Tuesday, May 1, as the country celebrates International Workers' Day. Non-authorized gatherings by political, labor, and other anti-governmental groups typically take place in public spaces and risk being dispersed by force. In Istanbul, it is advised to avoid the vicinities of Disk Genel Merkez and Taksim Square . In these and other areas where large crowds typically gather, transportation disruptions due to street closures are likely. Store and business closures are also to be anticipated and public transit services will likely be operating on reduced schedules.
International Workers' Day, also called Labor Day or May Day, is celebrated annually in countries around the world. It is closely associated with international labor, socialist, communist, and anarchist movements. Violent demonstrations and protests, particularly those connected to anarchist groups, are not uncommon.
Turkey officially stopped celebrating the day in 1981 following the 1980 coup d'état before restoring the holiday in 2010. Taksim Square has typically been the center of celebrations due to the Taksim Square massacre, a violent incident that left between 34 and 42 dead on May 1, 1977.
The country's sociopolitical tensions have been high since a failed coup attempt carried out on July 15, 2016. A state of emergency has been in place since the failed coup, which left over 250 people dead. Since then, nearly 150,000 public servants have been fired or forced to resign from their jobs, and over 50,000 people have been arrested. Critics have repeatedly denounced increasing restrictions on political freedom and human rights violations under the guise of national security.
Individuals in Turkey are advised to avoid all demonstrations and rallies, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities, and carry proper identification at all times (e.g., passport). Due to the prevailing threat of terrorism, report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and maintain a high degree of vigilance, especially when visiting sites deemed particularly vulnerable to an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, festivals, etc.). Some Western governments advise against travel to areas along the Syrian and Iraqi borders.