From London to Paris, Istanbul, and Tokyo, millions of activists and workers are taking to the streets to demand better working conditions and to stand in solidarity with Palestine. Keep reading to find out more!

May Day Protests Instanbul Paris Tokyo

On Wednesday, International Worker’s Day, millions of workers and activists took to the streets around the world to demand better working conditions and pay, and to express their frustration at rising prices.

Protests have been documented from London to Paris, Istanbul, Tokyo, and beyond. Paris and Istanbul have gained particular attention due to the police response to protests. Videos show protesters being fired at with rubber bullets in Istanbul as they attempted to make their way through a barricade to Taksim Square. Protests are barred from taking place on the square by President Erdoğan. Since the brutal crackdown on protesters on May Day in 1977, where an unknown gunman shot at protesters, leading to a stampede that killed 34 people, the square has become symbolic to protesters.

Video on social media also shows Paris police in riot gear throwing what appears to be tear gas at protesters. Protests have been ongoing in Paris since President Macron’s controversial pension reform bill that raises the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 years old.

May Day 2024 Palestine Protests Connection

Many photos and videos across social media and news outlets show pro-Palestinian protesters joining labor activists and workers, with many holding Palestinian flags. This led some to speculate over whether labor protesters are standing in solidarity with the student protesters in the United States and the people of Palestine during the ongoing Israel-Hamas War.

One protester in Greece, Nikolas Macrokefalos, said the May Day protesters wanted to “express our solidarity with students in the United States, who are facing great repression of their right and their just demands,” and the protests on Wednesday were to “send a message that workers say no to exploitation, no to poverty, no to high wages,”

May Day 2024 Palestine Protests Connection

Since the beginning of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israel has received global condemnation for its actions in response to Hamas’ Oct 7 attacks on a music festival. The response has also exposed deep divisions between Western countries and the rest of the world, particularly in comparison to the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

South Africa, where similar protests happened on Wednesday, filed charges against Israel at the International Court of Justice, accusing the country of genocide. The Court ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent” acts that “deliberately” inflicted “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,”

What Does May Day Celebrate?

International socialist and trade union groups designated May 1st as a day of solidarity for workers worldwide. The groups chose May 1st as it was the anniversary of the 1886 Haymarket Riot.

In 1886, Chicago labor protesters clashed with police while the former were marching to demand better working conditions, including an 8-hour working day. Over the course of several days, many protesters were injured by police intervention. On May 3rd, in Haymarket Square, an unknown person threw a bomb at the gathered protesters in an effort to disperse them. Police responded by opening fire; the violence resulted in several police officers and protesters being wounded and killed.

When is May Day?

May Day is on May 1 in many countries around the world. The United States and Canada observe a similar holiday called Labor Day. Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September.

While May Day originated in the United States, the country does not recognize the day as an official holiday. This is because in 1894, President Grover Cleveland designated the first Monday of September as Labor Day in part due to its observance in some states, but also because of the uneasiness President Cleveland felt over the association of May Day with socialism.

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Published by HOLR Magazine.

Image Credit: @CLPRESSFR X @Firstpost YouTube

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