(en) Mainstream News On May Day Clashes Around The World

Arm The Spirit (ats@locust.etext.org)
Fri, 2 May 1997 20:44:00 -0400 (EDT)


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Anarchists Clash With Police After Zurich Rally

ZURICH, Switzerland, May 1 (AFP) - Swiss anarchists and left-wingers clashed with police here Thursday at the end of a peaceful march by 3,000 people to mark May Day. As the march ended in early afternoon, 300 masked anarchists and left-wingers pelted the police with stones and firecrackers, daubed the headquarters of a newspaper with red paint and set garbage cans on fire. Police used water cannon to disperse the crowd. No one was injured. Clashes between anarchists and police have become a May Day tradition in Zurich for several years. The leader in Switzerland of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas and a sympathizer of Peru's leftist Tupac Amaru movement, which seized the residence of the Japanese ambassador to Peru in December with hundreds of hostages, addressed the march, alongside Swiss union leaders.

May Day Teargas As South Korean Workers Demand President's Resignation

SEOUL, May 1 (AFP) - South Korean workers and radical students battled riot police in two cities Thursday as May Day rallies turned into violent anti-government demonstrations demanding the ouster of President Kim Young-Sam. The police lobbed scores of teargas grenades as protestors kicked and punched their way through police lines after a rally by some 7,000 militant workers in a park in Seoul. Several protestors, bleeding from their faces, were taken away by colleagues, witnesses said. Police seized a dozen protestors. In the southern city of Taegu, clashes between police and some 2,000 workers left dozens of protestors injured and about 100 arrested by police, Yonhap news agency said. Workers also staged peaceful rallies in several other cities, but details were not immediately available. In Seoul, a police helicopter hovered overhead, as many of the workers, trapped in the park by police, demanded the arrest of the president's 38-year-old son, Kim Hyun-Chul, on corruption charges. At several Seoul university campuses, some 3,000 students faced off with riot police who prevented them from linking up with the workers. The May Day rallies were sponsored by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), an umbrella militant labor group which spearheaded a month of labor turmoil in January against an unpopular labor law.

The January turmoil caused 3.2 billion dollars in lost production and aggravated South Korea's economic slump.

26 Injured In Turkish Clash Of May Day Protesters, Police

ISTANBUL, May 1 (AFP) - At least 26 people were injured when leftist protesters clashed with Turkish police during May Day celebrations here Thursday, the Anatolia news agency reported. The injured in the clash at Okmeydani square on Istanbul's European side included at least 15 policemen and 11 protesters, but none of them was in serious condition, it said. Scores of protesters from the Turkish Communist Party/Marxist Leninist, an illegal Maoist group, overturned and set ablaze a commuter bus owned by the municipality, prompting the police to intervene. The 26 people were injured as the protesters attacked with bars and stones and the police used tear gas and fired into the air, the agency said. The injured were hospitalised. Meanwhile, nearly 20,000 demonstrators who gathered at a square in Sisli district on Istanbul's European side celebrated May Day, chanting anti-government slogans. They later dispersed peacefully.

Suspected German Leftists Burn Cars In Berlin

BERLIN, April 30 (Reuter) - Suspected leftists set fire to several luxury cars in the early hours of Wednesday in Berlin, offering a foretaste of trouble police expect on May 1 when thousands turn out for traditional Labour Day rallies. Berlin police said notes found near three burnt-out cars suggested left-wing extremists had been responsible. Fifteen other cars were burned out. Extremists in Berlin have targeted expensive cars, shops and bars in the past. They went on the rampage 10 years ago on May 1, setting fire to a supermarket. Berlin's interior minister Joerg Schoenbohm promised a heavy police presence on the streets on Thursday, when unions and other groups are due to hold demonstrations across the country. "Based on experience, senseless destructive anger could be possible after such demonstrations," Schoenbohm said. Leipzig police plan to have 4,500 officers on duty in case of clashes between left and right-wingers, although authorities have banned a rally by the right-wing National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) to try to minimise trouble. "I am concerned about a clash between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators ," Leipzig mayor Hinrich Lehmann-Grube told the Die Welt daily. Berlin authorities said they could not stop left-wing extremists from travelling to Leipzig but that police would try to make sure they were not carrying weapons.

Police Brace For May Day Violence In Berlin

BERLIN, May 1 (AFP) - Hundreds of police were mobilised in Berlin's volatile Prezlauer Berg district overnight in readiness for traditional violent demonstrations by local leftwing activists on May Day. Kollwitz square in east Berlin, where fierce clashes occurred last year between anarchists and police, was sealed off for several hours on Wednesday night. Restaurants and cafes closed early and battened down in the expectation of violence but no incidents occurred. Police started withdrawing at around 02:00 a.m. Thursday, a police spokesman said. Two leftwing demonstrations expected to mobilise about 10,000 supporters, are scheduled in Berlin on Thursday. Crowds are expected to be bigger than usual this year for the 10th anniversary of the so-called May Day "revolutionary demonstrations" which regularly degenerate into street battles. Last year, almost 200 people were arrested in Berlin after May Day clashes with police. Police were also expecting demonstrations by neo-Nazi supporters in the former East Germany, particularly in Leipzig, despite a ban on a demonstration by the NPD German National Party in the city. A court in Bautzen in eastern Germany upheld the ban on Wednesday night, citing a risk of clashes between neo-Nazis and leftwing militants who had called a anti-fascist protest. The NPD responded by calling a demonstration at Cottbus in eastern Germany near the Polish border. This was also expected to be banned, according to the Brandenburg state interior ministry in Potsdam. On Tuesday night, three luxury cars were set on fire in Berlin by suspected leftwing activists. Two Mercedes and a BMW 850 were gutted in the well-heeled districts of Grunewald, Zehlendorf and Charlottenburg in the western half of the city. Police found a letter with the warning: "Revolutionary May Day - sports cars are also included". Several other cars, including Trabants dating from the communist era, were also set on fire in other districts but it was unclear there whether a political motive was involved, police said.

German Extremists In May Day Clash

MUENDEN, Germany, May 1 (AFP) - Some 300 rightwing extremists battled with about 50 ultraleftists in central Germany Thursday, and police said they arrested some 30-40 neo-Nazis. One policeman was hurt. The neo-Nazis gathered at Muenden near Kassel, taking police by surprise, after a planned demonstration by the extreme rightwing National Party of Germany (NPD) was banned from being held in Leipzig or Cottbus. In Leipzig, where official trade union and Social Democrat events remained planned, a heavy police presence prevented clashes between NPD supporters and leftwing counter-demonstrators. Despite the ban, some rightwingers tried to gather at the Leipzig war memorial, to which some leftists also travelled, police said. Three people were reported arrested. Some 4,500 police sealed off the memorial where the NPD rally was to have been held. A move to hold the rally at Cottbus near the Polish border after the Leipzig ban was foiled by a second ban. Police were on the alert in Berlin to prevent a repeat of extreme leftwing violence that has marked May Day celebrations in the German capital in recent years.

Cubans Join Castro In May Day Festivities; Anti-U.S. Sentiment A Major Theme

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- More than a million Cubans marched through the Plaza of the Revolution to celebrate May Day Thursday in what was billed by the government as the largest May 1 fete since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. President Fidel Castro, who came to power early in 1959 after leading a guerrilla campaign against dictator Fulgencio Batista, was on hand to observe what also is known as International Labor Day. He saluted the marchers as they passed by him and a statue of national hero Jose Marti. Castro, wearing his familiar green military uniform, watched the parade through binoculars. The 70-year-old leader was flanked by other Cuban officials. Music blared from loudspeakers as workers carrying placards with revolutionary slogans marched into the square. This May Day was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the death of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who was a close collaborator of Castro's during the revolution and is revered in many parts of Latin America. Guevara sought to spread Marxist ideologies by using small, tightly knit guerrilla groups to wage war and propaganda campaigns. He was killed in Bolivia in October 1967 after being captured by the Bolivian army. Guevara's wife and family were greeted warmly by Castro at the podium, near a huge mural of the former revolutionary. The government said the march was a sign of support for Cuba's one-party system and a protest against attempts by the United States to rid the island of communism. "That is the reason that May 1 becomes a referendum as an answer to Mr. Clinton's pretensions in the message he sent to the U.S. Congress," said Pedro Ross, leader of the Cuban Workers Union, the nation's only labor union. In January, Clinton proposed a democratic transition plan for Cuba. Cubans also oppose the U.S. economic embargo against the island, which has made fuel, food, medicine, spare parts, toilet paper, soap and other items scarce. Last year, Clinton signed the so-called Helms-Burton Law, aimed at cutting off all investment in Cuba in order to strangle its economy and, ultimately, any and all support for Castro. Cubans seemed to send a symbolic message to the United States on May Day. Anti-aircraft units were deployed around Havana the night before, their guns pointing toward the United States. Authorities said they were part of a routine military exercise.

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