Friday, May 1, 2009

Worldwide May Day rallies

The head of Germany's DGB federation of German trade unions, Michael Sommer (2nd right) takes part in a May Day demonstration in Berlin, northern Germany. --PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN - GERMAN and Turkish police clashed with demonstrators on Friday as huge crowds angered by the worst global recession in decades took to the streets worldwide for traditional labour day rallies.

In Germany, on course for its biggest slump since World War II, Berlin police made 49 arrests as young demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks and set fire to cars and rubbish bins in the early hours.

On Friday tens of thousands of people gathered for May Day rallies across Germany and police were bracing for pitched battles later in the day with far-left demonstrators.

'No one could have imagined that this crisis could have been so profound,' Michael Sommer, head of the DGB trade union federation, told a cheering crowd in Berlin. 'There is no light at the end of the tunnel.'

Planned far-right rallies and counter demonstrations were also expected to result in unrest that has been a feature of May 1 for 20 years in Germany. In Berlin 5,000 police were standing by with water cannon, tear gas and batons.

In Turkey, several hundred demonstrators battled riot police in central Istanbul, with protestors chanting 'hand in hand against fascism', 'repression won't stop us' and 'long live the revolution and socialism'.

Turkish riot police staged three charges against hundreds of demonstrators in the Sisli district of the city who had hurled rocks at security forces. At least eight were injured, including two police officers, NTV television said.

Rallies were held around the world, with organisers everywhere promising to highlight public anger over the crippling recession which has seen millions lose their jobs. -- AFP

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