Turkish court annuls stay of execution on Istanbul's Gezi Park construction

Turkish court annuls stay of execution on Istanbul's Gezi Park construction

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
Turkish court annuls stay of execution on Istanbuls Gezi Park construction

The Gezi Park protests produced countrywide anti-government protests following a police crackdown. DHA photo

An Istanbul administrative court has unanimously overturned a lower court’s stay of order ruling on planned construction on Istanbul’s Gezi Park, allowing the demolition of the green space to resume ahead of the subsequent mall construction.

The Istanbul First Regional Court had ruled June 6 to order a stay of execution in the case of the Taksim Gezi Park Protection and Beautification Association versus the Culture and Tourism Ministry, halting the demolition amid countrywide protests.

The ministry appealed the verdict, prompting the Istanbul Sixth Administrative Court to lift the legal obstacles preventing Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality from demolishing Gezi Park until the State Council gave its final verdict on the matter.

The recent overturning allows construction to proceed even before the State Council finalizes its decision on the park.

However, according to a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the case, the court ruling has no legal basis and a redevelopment plan cannot be implemented in any way. Can Atalay said the plan opening Gezi Park for construction had already been cancelled by the Istanbul 1st Administrative Court and the Regional Court’s verdict was therefore not valid.

“They cannot drive a nail in Gezi Park, it will stay as a park,” Atalay said.

Nationwide protests

The Gezi Park protests started May 27 as a passive resistance movement against the rebuilding of Ottoman artillery barracks, including the building of a mall on the last green space left in downtown Istanbul.

The mall plans sparked protests from a small group, which soon turned into countrywide anti-government protests in 79 of Turkey’s 81 provinces following a severe police crackdown. Government officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, soon backed down from the planned mall construction.

Erdoğan said the government would be willing to go to the ballots over the future of the park when the protests peaked in mid-June, even if the court approved the plan.

In all, four protesters have died due to harsh police interventions during the protests. A police officer also died after falling from a bridge while pursuing fleeing protesters in Adana. In addition, 8,000 people in total have been injured. Sixty people sustained serious injuries, 11 of whom were blinded by tear gas canisters fired directly at protesters by police, the Turkish Medical Association said.