New Year’s Eve celebrations cancelled in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş
The Beşiktaş Municipality on Dec. 25 said New Year’s Eve activities planned to be held at Barbaros Square in Besiktaş would not be allowed due to security concerns and the area’s limited capacity.
“Considering the circumstances in our country, the events planned to be held in Barbaros Square will not allowed,” the municipality said in a statement.
It added that the district would be packed if celebrations were held on Dec. 31 as Beşiktaş is also a transportation hub for many Istanbul residents.
Security measures in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, including in the central Taksim Square area, have also been doubled up in preparation for New Year’s Eve on the first anniversary of the bloody attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub.
“Measures for the New Year will be at the highest level,” Beyoğlu district police chief İsmail Kılıç said on Dec. 20 in a meeting in Istanbul, quoted by state-run Anadolu Agency.
Celebratory gatherings will not be permitted in Taksim Square this year, while precautions will be taken at the entrances of Cihangir, Karaköy, Tarlabaşı and Talimhane, all popular hang-out destinations in the Beyoğlu district.
“Celebrations will not take place so people will be able to enter the new year peacefully,” Kılıç added.
In order to help monitor the Taksim area, older traffic surveillance cameras (MOBESE) have been maintained and fixed where necessary, while new cameras have also been installed on poles in the area.
Security measures have been tightened this year after at least 39 people, including a police officer, were killed and 79 people were injured when 34-year-old Uzbek citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov opened fire on revelers at the Reina nightclub in the Ortaköy neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2017.
Of the 39 killed, 27 were foreigners including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco, who had gone to the club to celebrate the new year.
“The Reina attacker initially came to film Taksim last year. He then changed locations after seeing the security measures in Taksim. That is why we will double up on security this year,” Kılıç said.