ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Yassıada will now be officially called 'Demokrasi ve Özgürlük Adası,' meaning 'Democracy and Freedom Island.' DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Yassıada, the small but infamous island located off the coast of Istanbul’s Asian side in the Marmara Sea, was officially renamed “Democracy and Freedom Island” after the general provincial assembly’s approval Nov. 7.
The “flat island,” one of the smallest and uninhabited of the picturesque Princes Island archipelago, is known for the island where the political brass of the once-ruling Democrat Party (DP) was exiled to prior to the 1960 coup. Turkish politics was indelibly marked by the executions of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Foreign Affairs Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan after they were tried on the island.
The name change is part of a larger initiative to convert the island into a democracy museum and to build a conference center for future conferences or symposiums. Yassıada and her peaky neighbor Sivriada both underwent the reclassification allowing the construction of cultural and tourism services as part of an omnibus bill that was passed last July. Prior to the reclassification, both islands were listed as a historical and natural area. Facilities in Yassiada, where the Democrat Party member’s trial were heard, however, were in derelict conditions following years of a lack of maintenance.
The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) officials have hailed the general provincial assembly vote, saying that the new project will assist in reinstituting a new symbolic to the island. Opposition representatives also supported the bill.
The idea of building a democracy museum on the island was first mentioned by Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and the then Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay during a visit to Yassıada on 2011.
However plans for the building to become hotels for tourism and housing had stirred debate with the mayor of the Prince’s Island, who emphasized the need for the islands’ preservation as they contained archaeologically important ruins dating back to the archaic ages and the Byzantine period.
Mayor Mustafa Farsakoğlu said that they had asked for archeological excavations and turned the island into an “open air museum.”
Yassıada currently lies in ruins with the only ihabitants being two German
shepherd dogs and bushes as tall as humans, while the building where the Adnan Menderes trial took place is being destroyed by humidity.