Filling the sea to make a square

Filling the sea to make a square

While Taksim Square was closed to people on May Day, it was open to Galatasaray fans who wanted to celebrate their football team’s championship. But the matter is not limited to the discrimination between the laborer and the fan. Istanbul is being rebuilt. There is an attempt to prevent the appearance of any image or any word that is against this.

Our economy is based on the pouring of concrete. Whatever gets old is knocked down. Any piece of land that looks empty, each drop of water and the leaf of every tree are unnecessary objects blocking the path toward high profits. Did you say history? Did you say the landscape of the city? Please don’t make me laugh!

From the third bridge to the new airport, from the underwater tunnel project Marmaray, which was a cause of trouble for our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan because of its “pots and pans,” to Çamlıca, from Kanalistanbul to the gradual zoning of the Bosphorus, Istanbul is being made non-Istanbul.

As if all this was not enough, every day we hear of a new arbitrary project. The last example is the “new rally place” planned for Yenikapı.

Who decided on this?

According to this project, the coastal band between the Yenikapı IDO sea bus station and Kennedy Street will be filled. It does not exist yet but its name is ready: “Istanbul Metropolitan Rally and Demonstration Square.” This area will be used for rallies, concerts and fair organizations and it will have a capacity for 1 million people, it is being said.

Well, how and when was it decided that a new rally place was to be built in Yenikapı? When 1 million people can fit into Kazlıçeşme, why is it necessary to build such a place right next to it, especially on the border of the historic peninsula? Has the damage this area will cause to the city, to the historic peninsula and the sea been calculated?

There is no answer to any of these questions. How important is it anyway? Nobody is able to ask questions or get any answers in this country anyway.

If it were otherwise, “works” would not have been started so hurriedly. Take a look, the earthmoving trucks have already started filling up the seabed with rocks. It is reported that beneath the square, an “advanced biological treatment plant” that will treat the wastewater of a population of 2.5 million will be built.

Why on the seabed of the Marmara? Why create so much waste and then try to clean it afterward? It’s no good crying over spilt milk.

I’m thinking about what kind of a cause it would possibly serve – the filling up of a rally square in the historic peninsula… For some reason, the first image that comes to mind is this: Could it be the dream of Mr. Tayyip Erdoğan to build a bigger and more magnificent place with more concrete where he would be able to declare his presidential fatwas?

But, so many excavations cannot be merely for a rally place. The real matter here must be to create space for jewelry, wedding and automotive fairs.

Whatever they will build, it will never take the place of Taksim or add value to the city with its non-natural lawns.

Believe me, I hope so much that I am wrong, that I will be able to say in 10 or 15 years that “Oh, Istanbul is so much more beautiful like this.” But I know I will be hitting my head against the wall. And I will not be alone in doing this.

There will be many, many people – including those responsible for the “project” today – who will be regretful in the future.

Let’s say again: There is no point in crying over spilt milk.

Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on May 8. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.