The Istanbul Regional Administrative Court has recently lifted an injunction issued by a lower administrative court on a government decision to build a replica of the Topçu Barracks as part of the Taksim rejuvenation project, a plan which has led to violent clashes between protestors and police over the past weeks.
The court’s decision paves the way for the government to begin construction work on Gezi Park adjoining İstanbul’s famed Taksim Square. The park is a leafy oasis that has lent character to Turkey’s most high-profile public square for more than seven decades. Over the years it has hosted many different kinds of events — from protests to picnics, from exhibitions to concerts.
The İstanbul 6th Administrative Court on May 31 unanimously issued an injunction on the government’s decision to rebuild the Topçu Barracks on Gezi Park, after police used tear gas and water cannon to oust a sit-in by environmentalists in the park. The Culture and Tourism Ministry later appealed this ruling with the İstanbul Regional Administrative Court. The regional court decided to lift the injunction, the Hürriyet daily reported on Monday, paving the way for the government to start construction work in the famous park.
The Taksim pedestrianization project was approved by the government in February 2012 and includes the construction of replicas of previously demolished buildings in the famous square. The historic Topçu Barracks was a 35,000-square-meter building that was demolished by İstanbul authorities in 1940. It is to be constructed in what is now Gezi Park, the site of the original Ottoman barracks. The ministry had previously announced that part of the garden in Gezi Park will be protected by the construction of the barracks because the structure will limit public access to it.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in April that new barracks to be rebuilt will house a shopping mall and a residential area.