The Taksim Square massacre relates to the incidents on 1 May, 1977, the international Labour Day on Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey. The event came within the scope of the wave of political violence in Turkey of the late 1970s.
Rumours that Labour Day 1977 would turn out bloody were circulated by the Turkish press before the rally, once again organized by DISK. The leadership of DISK known to support Workers Party of Turkey, the Socialist Workers Party of Turkey and the then-illegal Communist Party of Turkey had banned the participation of the so-called Maoist block (at the time acting under names such as the Liberation of the People, the Path of the People and Union of the People). It was expected that these groups would clash with each other.
The estimates on the number of participants in the Labour Day celebrations on Taksim Square in 1977 is usually given as 500,000 citizens. Many participants and in particular the so-called Maoist block had not even entered the square when shots were heard. Most witnesses stated that they came from the building of the water supply company (Sular İdaresi) and the Marmara Hotel, the tallest building in Istanbul in 1977. Subsequently the security forces intervened with armoured vehicles making much noise with their sirens and explosives. They also hosed the crowd with pressurized water. Most casualties were caused by the panic that this intervention created.
The figures on the casualties vary between 34 and 42 persons killed and 126 and 220 persons being injured.
None of the perpetrators were caught and brought to justice. After the incident, over 500 demonstrators were detained, and 98 were indicted. Among the 17 defendants, who had been put in pre-trial detention, three were released before the first hearing and nine were released at the first hearing on 7 July 1977. The remaining prisoners were released soon afterwards.
Since the beginning, the CIA has been suspected of involvement. After the incident, Ali Kocaman, chair of the trade union Oleyis, stated that police officers and Americans had been in the Intercontinental Hotel that had been closed to the public for that day. Bülent Uluer, the then Secretary General of the Revolutionary Youth Federation said on 2 May 1977: “Most victims were among us. About 15 of our friends died. This was a plan of the CIA, but not the beginning nor the end. To solve these incidents, one has to look at it from the angle.”