May Day rallies held around the world with calls for peace in Ukraine | Russo-Ukrainian War

Citizens and trade unions gathered around the world to mark May Day, sending messages of protest to their governments and calling for peace in Ukraine.

It’s a time of great emotion for participants and their causes, and the Sunday May Day marches were no different with police at the ready as street protests commemorated International Workers’ Day or May Day.

The war in Ukraine was also at the center of messages on May Day this year, with national leaders and union officials calling for peace and also warning that Russia’s war could spread further into Europe.

Turkey

Turkish police moved quickly in Istanbul and surrounded protesters near the banned Taksim Square – the site in 1977 where 34 people were killed during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a neighboring building.

Istanbul’s governor’s office said police arrested 164 people for protesting without a permit and resisting police in the square. An official May Day rally in the city also drew thousands of participants chanting, chanting and waving banners – a protest organized by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey.

Sri Lanka

Tens of thousands marched in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government.

Members of the Socialist Frontline Party of Sri Lanka attend a march to mark International Workers' Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, May 1, 2022 [Eranga Jayawardena/AP]
Members of the Socialist Frontline Party of Sri Lanka attend a march to mark International Workers’ Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, May 1, 2022 [Eranga Jayawardena/AP] (AP Photo)

As part of protests marking May Day, protesters waved red flags and chanted slogans outside the president’s offices, renewing their call for him and his brother, who is the prime minister, to step down in the face of an economic crisis. unprecedented which has seen Sri Lanka suffer from shortages. fuel, gas and medicines as well as rising food prices.

Rajapaksa has been forced to remain indoors for the past three weeks in the president’s heavily barricaded home, 300 meters from his office, as protesters remain camped outside.

Sri Lanka’s ruling party, Podujana Peramuna, has been forced to call off its May Day rally due to ongoing protests. Police said most government cabinet members remained under heavy police protection at their homes.

China

Many Chinese marked a quiet May Day this year as the government’s “zero-COVID” approach restricted travel and imposed lockdowns in several cities. Millions of people remain confined to their buildings or compounds in Shanghai, China’s largest city, under a lockdown that has eased only slightly. All restaurants in Beijing were closed to indoor customers on Sunday and could only offer takeout and delivery until the end of the National Day on Wednesday.

Cuba

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and retired leader Raul Castro led a huge march in Havana where hundreds of thousands of Cubans marched through the streets of the capital carrying banners and pictures of Cuban revolutionary leaders, local media reported. May Day marches in Cuba are full of symbolism, a celebration of Cuba’s 63-year-old revolution and a government-led rebuke to the Cold War-era embargo imposed on the island by the United States .

“Despite so many difficulties, the majority of Cubans support the revolutionary process. We Cubans are working to solve our own problems. We don’t want any interference of any kind,” said Juana Garcia, a worker at the Cuban Institute of Philosophy, as she took part in Sunday’s celebrations.

This year’s rallies were also the first since anti-government protests in July 2021 – the largest since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution – that rocked the nation, a major test of the island’s first government not led by Castro since the start of the revolution.

A man holds a photo of the late Cuban President Fidel Castro as thousands of people march through Revolution Square to mark May Day, in Havana, Cuba, May 1, 2022 [Claudia Daut/Reuters]
A man holds a photo of the late Cuban President Fidel Castro as thousands march through Revolution Square to mark May Day, in Havana on May 1, 2022 [Claudia Daut/Reuters]

France

The May Day rallies in France – which take place a week after the presidential election – were intended to show newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron the opposition he could face in his second five-year term.

Around 250 protest rallies were planned across the country, with a focus on Paris where Communist-backed CGT union members led the main march through the city’s eastern neighborhoods and were joined by a handful of others unions. All are pressuring Macron for policies that put the people first and condemn his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.

The marchers carried banners that read “Retirement before arthritis”, “Retirement at 60, freeze prices” and “Macron, get out”.

Riot police take position during a May Day demonstration march of the Republic, Bastille to the Nation, in Paris, France, on Sunday, May 1, 2022 [Lewis Joly/AP]
Riot police take position during a May Day demonstration march of the Republic, from the Bastille to the Nation, in Paris, France, on Sunday, May 1, 2022 [Lewis Joly/AP] (AP Photo)

Most of the rallies were peaceful but violence erupted in Paris at the start of the march near Place de la République and when it reached Place de la Nation. Black-clad anarchists, known as the “Black Bloc”, ransacked a McDonald’s restaurant on Place Léon Blum and ransacked several real estate agencies. Their windows were smashed and garbage cans set on fire.

Police said activists even attacked firefighters, trying to put out fires. The police responded by firing tear gas.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen was absent for the first time from her party’s traditional wreath laying at the foot of a statue of Joan of Arc, which her party uses as a nationalist symbol. She was replaced by the interim president of her National Rally party, Jordan Bardella, who said Le Pen was preparing for the upcoming legislative elections.

Italy

Peace was an underlying theme on May Day, with calls for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In Italy, an open-air mega-concert was staged for Rome and Italy’s three main unions were concentrating their main rally in the hilltop town of Assisi, a frequent destination for peace protests.

This year’s slogan was “Working for Peace”.

Greece

Metro trains came to a halt and ships were docked at ports as thousands of workers joined May Day rallies in the Greek capital to protest soaring energy and food prices.

Police estimate around 10,000 people marched through central Athens and gathered outside the Greek parliament due to the cost of living which they say is becoming unaffordable – gas and electricity bills have risen , with rising prices exacerbated by sanctions on Russia after its February 24 invasion. Ukraine.

“It is very difficult, and every day it becomes more difficult for the workers. We will fight it, because the working class can no longer survive,” said Katerina Dekaristou, a teacher, standing in front of parliament.

Bulgaria

In a May Day speech, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev warned that there was a risk that the war in Ukraine could spread across Europe – and even the world.

“The risk that the war degenerates into a pan-European and even world war [war] is real,” Radev said.

He said the blasts reverberated through the “heart of Europe”.

“Our homes, our children, our homeland and nature may fall victim to this escalation,” he warned.

Considered pro-Russian, Radev went on to say it was a “patriotic duty” not to allow Bulgaria to get involved in the Ukraine war. He thus opposes the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, who wishes to send arms deliveries from Bulgaria to Ukraine. The National Assembly in Sofia is due to weigh Wednesday the possibility of sending military aid to kyiv.

Germany

May Day celebrations in Germany also focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine alongside more traditional social issues.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that the war in Ukraine could cause a global food crisis during his speech at a rally in Düsseldorf.

“This war will have consequences, consequences all over the world,” he predicted.

“We already have to worry that there are those who are going to starve, that there are countries that can no longer afford to buy grain for their people, that this whole war situation will also lead to a hunger crisis around the world,” Scholz continued, referring to the fact that Ukraine, one of the world’s largest breadbaskets, is largely unable to export its grain due to war.

Scholz also promised Ukraine additional humanitarian aid and military support, and he had a personal message for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I call on the Russian president: let the guns be silent! Withdraw your troops! Respect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine!

Other May Day protests were planned, including in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where students and others planned to rally in support of Ukraine.

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