Gezi Park set to reopen a day after crackdown

Gezi Park set to reopen a day after crackdown

Gezi Park set to reopen a day after crackdown

Police officers sit on benches in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. The park has been under a lockdown for weeks as a renovation project continues at the site. AP photo

The reopening of Gezi Park is set to take place tomorrow, days after Istanbul protesters witnessed another severe crackdown with police forces intervening in crowds in the city’s Taksim Square, detaining 59 protesters.

Mutlu had tweeted on June 6 that the park would be opened on Sunday. Three hours later he said the opening date would be “[Sunday] or Monday.” The opening date was eventually confirmed as July 8.

Protesters gathered at the square June 6 to conduct a water fight, a peaceful protest in reference to the police’s heavy use of water cannons, before forces entered the square and resorted to tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.

Scores of people flooded İstiklal Avenue to escape the brutal crackdown and many fled to side streets, trying to escape the riot police. Some 59 protesters were detained throughout the clashes, as parents of the detained protesters tried to convince the forces to release their children.

However, their attempts were unfruitful, as scores of detained protesters were taken into police vans before being taken to police stations for further proceedings.

The Taksim Solidarity Platform gathered near the square following the initial intervention with copies of the Istanbul 1st Regional Court’s June 6 decision, which canceled the controversial Taksim construction and the Artillery Barracks project, demanding the reopening of the park for public use.

A second intervention followed the gathering, with police forces again resorting to tear gas and water cannons.

Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Mutlu had previously warned protesters of a possible police intervention, minutes before the event was set to begin, saying the demonstration was unauthorized.

“The Constitution says anyone can stage a demonstration without giving notification, but the legislation says that applying to the authorities for permission is mandatory. So nobody can say they exercise their constitutional rights. This is unlawful,” Mutlu said.

“I can’t allow a demonstration that I haven’t permitted in advance, I can’t act unlawfully. So we won’t allow these gatherings. Our police will warn them. We believe that a significant number will leave the place after these warnings,” Mutlu said.