Police resort to tear gas against protesters at Istanbul grove
Riot police sprayed tear gas against protesters who attempted to prevent construction works at the Validebağ grove, in Istanbul's Üsküdar district, Oct. 28. AA PhotoTension at an Istanbul grove where local activists are denouncing the construction of a mosque near a protected area escalated as police confronted protesters on Oct. 28, resorting to tear gas and paintball pellets loaded with gas to disperse the group.
Protesters, who have been camping next to the Validebağ grove in the Üsküdar district on Istanbul’s Asian side, had attempted to halt the entry of a truck carrying an electric generator to the construction site.
Riot police, who have been escorting the construction under strict security measures, cordoned off entry to the construction site before spraying tear gas at demonstrators who refused to abandon their positions.
Some officers also resorted to batons to attack protesters, reports have said.
An administrative court decision had ordered a stay of execution ruling that the construction next to the Validebağ grove, which has a protected status, was not in line with regulations. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayor of Üsküdar rejected the decision, arguing that the parcel of land had been legally acquired by the local municipality.
Local activists claim that the municipality plans to use the construction of the mosque as a first step to removing the protected status of the historic grove. Some 80,000 signatures were collected in early October against a separate municipality project that would cancel the protected status of the grove and turn it into a leisure area with a wedding-hall, open-air theater and artificial ponds.