At least 45 people were arrested in Istanbul and Ankara for attempting to hold marches to mark May Day amid the coronavirus lockdown on Friday.

Arzu Cerkezoglu, the head of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), was briefly detained before being released. 

As many as 15 people were arrested when a group gathered in front of DISK’s central office in Istanbul’s Besiktas district and attempted to march to Taksim Square despite police warnings.

Also, 11 people were arrested in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district on the Anatolian side for attempting to hold a rally.

Another 12 people were arrested at Istanbul’s Sisli district, as they wanted to march to Taksim Square.

Turkey has imposed a 3-day curfew in 31 provinces including Istanbul and Ankara beginning Thursday midnight to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has claimed 3,174 lives in the country.

The Istanbul Police Department said a total of 44,756 personnel are on duty as part of measures to prevent rallies amid the curfew.

Seven people were arrested in the capital Ankara.

Meanwhile, members of several labor unions, including those of the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions commemorated victims of a May 1, 1977 massacre by leaving flowers close to Taksim Square. Members of the unions also laid a wreath on Taksim Square.

May Day, first emerged as an event commemorating the labor of workers worldwide on May 1, 1886, when a group of workers in the US held a massive strike for an eight-hour workday.

Turkey’s first official May Day celebrations were held in 1923.

In 1977, Labor Day demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square left 34 people dead and 136 injured in what became known as Bloody May 1.

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