The cities that suffered under the AKP’s rules

The cities that suffered under the AKP’s rules

They are the ones who joined the environment and urbanization under one ministry and sacrificed green areas to construction.

They are the ones who turned Taksim Square in Istanbul into a desert of concrete when they could not build (the Ottoman-styled) barracks.

They are the ones who erected a “palace of justice” totally devoid of esthetics while they bragged about it being the world’s biggest.

They are responsible for including the poles of a bridge in Istanbul’s silhouette of minarets.

They are the ones signing the investments that will devastate Istanbul’s last remaining forests.

They are the ones who were providing the rivers, forests and mountains in the service of the big capital.

They are the ones giving permission to construct skyscrapers among historic places, to construct shopping malls on every street.

They are the ones who took the Haydarpaşa train station from our daily lives for the lust of making it a hotel.

They are the ones who are centralizing the authority for areas under protection and thus trying to bypass the judicial inspection mechanisms. 

They are the ones who are chasing people with lower incomes from their neighborhoods for the sake of urban transformation.

Just because of that I was curious what Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş would have to add after having complained about Istanbul “being lost” at the fifth Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress.

“These cities cannot be just a place for the rent; these cities cannot become places where only economic concerns dominate,” said Kurtulmuş.

The AKP announced there will be a deputy head of the party responsible for the environment, culture and the city. There will be an effort to have cities in harmony with the environment. 

“Perhaps,” I said to myself, “The AKP has understood its mistake. Has it realized that we are trapped in cities we cannot live in and now will act accordingly?”

One cannot live without hope. I hoped too.

And then we learned that the person appointed for that position was Çiğdem Karaaslan, who is claimed to have her signature on many public projects.

She was a figure who had attracted the attention of the opposition with the number of tenders her company got. The Youth and Sports Ministry had confirmed the company was not awarded with as many as it was claimed; it got 11 projects.

It looked as if Kurtulmuş was saying something new. Yet the AKP, which turned the construction sector into the motor of the economy, had decided to appoint a “project person” in the agenda for the tenders she got as deputy head of the party responsible for environmental affairs.

The same day we learned the Fatih Municipality took the decision to open the historical peninsula to settlement by bypassing all the protection boards.

Actually nothing had changed.