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Moscow Has Festive May Day but Violence Erupts in Poland, Sri Lanka, S. Africa

May 01, 1987|From Times Wire Services

The mood was festive in Moscow for the annual May Day parade today, but activists ran into clubs in Poland, gunfire in Sri Lanka and tear gas in South Africa.

Kremlin leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev smiled and waved from atop the Lenin Mausoleum during a 2 1/2-hour display by tens of thousands of marchers in Moscow.

Floats pledging commitment to his "reconstruction" program dominated the parade. Others attacked President Reagan's "Star Wars" project.

One unusual float bore a huge portrait of American scientist Charles Hyder, who has become a Soviet media hero for staging a hunger strike for peace near the White House.

Not Celebrated in U.S.

There were similar parades in most other East Bloc states, and observances around the world on this international workers' day. May Day is not celebrated in the United States, which honors workers on Labor Day in September.

In Poland, police in Warsaw and Poznan broke up attempts by Solidarity supporters to mount May Day demonstrations.

Plainclothesmen arrested about a dozen demonstrators as they marched with banners from the grounds of a Warsaw church where Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a pro-Solidarity priest murdered by security police in 1984, is buried.

Opposition sources in the western Polish city of Poznan said local Solidarity leader Janusz Palubicki and at least one other activist were clubbed by police and detained after they left a workers' Mass carrying banners.

Sri Lanka Violence

In Sri Lanka, police fired guns and swung batons to disperse May Day protesters defying a government ban on demonstrations, killing one person and injuring at least 32, authorities said.

The government banned May Day rallies to prevent violence in the capital after a bomb blast 10 days ago, blamed on Tamil rebels, that killed 113 people.

In South Africa, May Day was a national holiday for the first time in a compromise by President Pieter W. Botha to black union demands.

Scores of policemen carrying whips and guns broke up an indoor meeting in Lenaisa, an Asian township outside Johannesburg, that was to be addressed by union officials, organizers said. The government had no immediate comment.

Jay Naidoo, secretary general of the 600,000-member Congress of South African Trade Unions, said indoor rallies were scheduled after local magistrates and town councils banned 20 planned outdoor rallies.

Snub in the Philippines

In the Philippines, left-wing union leaders snubbed a May Day reception given by President Corazon Aquino, and more than 20,000 workers marched across Manila to protest the government's failure to raise wages.

Labor leaders in Spain blasted the Socialist government's austerity policies at May Day rallies but said they are ready for talks to end a lengthy wage dispute.

The rallies, which also marked the 10th anniversary of the restoration of the trade union movement in Spain, followed two months of the most serious labor strife since the Socialists took office in 1982. Unions were outlawed under the dictatorship of the late Francisco Franco.

More than a million people participated in May Day rallies across Japan as the government announced a record-high annual unemployment rate of 2.8%.

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