Police disperse locals protesting plan to demolish public park for carpark in Turkey’s south
ANTALYAPolice in the southern province of Antalya have dispersed locals protesting a decision to demolish a public park in order to construct a carpark.
Residents of the Cumhuriyet neighborhood had been staging a sit-in protest in the Göçmen Park for a week in order to resist the Antalya Municipality’s plan to demolish the park, but were met with a police intervention on July 31.
Heavy machinery arrived in front of the park early on July 31 alongside water cannons and riot-police.
Locals tried to prevent the vehicles from entering the park and several people were seen sitting on a digger to stop it from moving.
Gül Karataş, one of the protestors, sat on the vehicle with her dog called “Fındık.”
“They want to turn our park into concrete. I won’t allow this,” Karataş told the Doğan News Agency, adding that she had moved to Antalya for its open spaces after a devastating earthquake in 1999.
As the encounter between locals and police was ongoing, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) provincial head Mustafa Erdem, the party’s district heads and Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) Mediterranean region representative Cemal Aybar arrived in the park to support the protest.
A brawl erupted between police and demonstrators and one woman was wounded while trying to prevent her friend from being detained. She was subsequently taken to a hospital.
After Aybar refused to leave the park, police took him by his arms and escorted him out. Heavy machinery then entered the area and started the demolition process.
A referendum on the issue was previously carried out with an order from Antalya Mayor Menderes Türel from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to decide whether a carpark should be constructed.
After a majority of the voters voted against, Türel said the project was canceled.
However, speaking to Doğan News Agency on Aug. 1, Türel said the carpark would be “completely underground” and on the surface would be “a more beautiful park.”
“If the aim is to not allow us to serve Antalya, I won’t be deterred by any of them,” Türel said, claiming that the referendum was carried out for a different park other than the Göçmen Park.
“We carried out the referendum for the Giritli Park only. A majority of the people opposed the carpark project and we accepted their will. We don’t do anything against the will of the people,” he added.
Vowing that “no one will be able to stop them,” Türel said his municipality will announce where the trees will be transferred to.
“We’ll transfer all of the trees and announce their location. No one has the right to say ‘We don’t want this place’ without presenting a valid reason,” he added.