Istanbul 6th Administration Court suspended the Topçu Barracks Project - publicly known as the planned construction of a shopping mall at Taksim Gezi Park in downtown Istanbul.
Acting upon a motion from Taksim Gezi Park Preservation and Embellishment Association, the court ruled the suspension of a former decision taken by Higher Council for Preservation of Cultural Heritage (Kültür Varlıklarını Koruma Yüksek Kurulu) on February 27, 2012.
“By taking into account the status and nature of the case, the court decided with a majority vote on May 31, 2013 for stay of execution until the defendant submits defense or receive information and documents appearing for stay of execution of the request,” the verdict cited.
Mücella Yapıcı from Chamber of Architects told bianet that they previously requested a similar motion which was rejected by İstanbul 4th Administration Court.
“The two different decisions point out the situation of jurisdiction in Turkey. However, this latest verdict is a source of appreciation,” she said.
Previously, Higher Council for Preservation of Cultural Heritage overturned its own decision to cancel the project for not “serving public interest” after PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a comment on the issue saying that “they would reject the rejection”.
On the late night of May 27, 11pm local time, dozers tore down the park wall adjacent to Elmadağ exit and uprooted several trees. Reacting upon the incident, a crowd gathered in the park and stopped the destruction. Scores people set up tents in the park to prevent the dozers from working. The next morning, police intervened the group with tear gas bombs.
Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder stopped the destruction by confronting the dozers. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality said the destruction was due to a road construction on the street.
“We are resuming our road broadening work to gain space for tunnel construction in front Divan Hotel. The walls adjacent to the hotel are blocking pedestrians and current being torn down. No trees are cut to complete the work. We are uprooting and relocating 5 trees due to the road broadening and wall destruction. We are also rebuilding a pedestrian bridge that was removed due to the construction.
An official said the project was initiated by a contractor of Kalyon Construction Ltd - the firm that is currently building the a tunnel in Taksim - and they had proper permissions to work 24/7 in the area. He also added that drill were made within a road construction effort.
Taksim Gezi Park Preservation and Embellishment Association and Ayaspaşa Association submitted official complaints to the Higher Council for Preservation of Cultural Heritage, saying that the overnight destruction was illegal.
The council, on the other hand, ordered information from municipalities of Istanbul and Beyoğlu to investigate the legal grounds of the ongoing construction.
On the nights of May 28 and 29, protestors patrolled around the destruction zone and planted trees in the park. On May 30, police intervened with gas bombs and burnt the tents of protestors. One protestor has been detained and released afterwards. Another protestors was hospitalized and operated.
After the end of police intervention, protestors reset their tents and resumed their demonstrations. The park attracted huge crowds and became a concert venue.
On May 31, the police intervened one more time and removed all the tents in the park which is currently closed. Hundreds of injuries were reported. (NV/BM)
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