Police in Germany and Turkey clashed with May Day demonstrators as the international economic crisis dominated traditional labour rallies across the world.


Young demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks at police in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin in the early hours. Police said they made 49 arrests and that about 30 officers were injured.

Clashes were also reported in the German port city of Hamburg.

Several hundred demonstrators battled riot police in central Istanbul. Water cannon was fired and several arrests made, correspondents at the scene said.

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

Several thousand union and left-wing activists took part in the annual protest, chanting “hand in hand against fascism”, “repression won\’t stop us” and “long live the revolution and socialism”.

The Turkish parliament on Wednesday passed a law making May 1 a national holiday again. It was taken off the public holiday list following a military coup in 1980. On May 1, 1977 suspected extreme right-wing snipers opened fire on May Day demonstrators in the Taksim Square in Istanbul, killing 34 people.

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

Communist Party supporters carrying a portrait of Soviet icon Vladimir Lenin paraded through Moscow. Police arrested dozens of far right and anti-immigrant supporters in Saint Petersburg.

In Italy, leaders of the main unions held their rally at the town of L\’Aquila in a sign of solidarity after the devastating earthquake there last month that killed nearly 300 people.

In Tokyo, about 36,000 people rallied in Yoyogi park, demanding better welfare benefits amid the recession while some protested against military spending.

Many more youths and people in their 20s joined the event than in recent years, including a group of young women who waved banners that read “Raise salaries!” and “No more overtime work!”

In South Korea, about 8,000 workers and students rallied in Seoul park urging an end to lay-offs and wage cuts caused by the crisis.

There were also rallies in Manila, Phnom Penh and Taipei.