News / Europe

Turkey Reopens Istanbul Park at Heart of Protests

People walk inside Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 8, 2013.
People walk inside Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 8, 2013.
Reuters
Turkey reopened an Istanbul park at the heart of last month's demonstrations against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and protest leaders called a rally there for Monday evening in defiance of the city governor.
 
Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu announced the reopening three weeks after riot police expelled protesters from Gezi Park following a fortnight of frequently violent protests against plans to redevelop the area.
 
The protests rapidly mutated into nationwide demonstrations against Erdogan, accused by critics after a decade in power of ruling in an increasingly authoritarian fashion. The unrest died down in late June, but on Saturday police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse protesters who sought to march on Taksim Square and the adjoining park.
 
“We have seen with the visit carried out today that all our work has been completed,” Mutlu told reporters in the park, which has been spruced up with the planting of new trees, plants and lawns since the protesters were evicted on June 15.
 
Soon after the opening, hundreds of people young and old converged on the park, some strolling along its paths and many lounging on benches and newly-laid lawn under the shade of trees on a hot Istanbul afternoon.
 
Small groups, both pro- and anti-government, gathered to discuss the protests and simmering tensions were evident.
 
“People became brothers here, and it will be very crowded tonight because we all missed that brotherhood. This park will always be the symbol of people's unity, power and harmony,” university student Ozer Sari, 22, told Reuters.
 
Nearby, retiree Abdullah Dogan, 54, dismissed the idea that the protests were about protecting the park.
 
“This was about overthrowing the government, a government which did its duty and took over the park, cleaned it and returned it to the people in better shape,” he said.
 
Protest meeting planned
 
Taksim Solidarity, combining political and non-governmental groups opposed to the construction of a replica Ottoman era barracks on the site of the park, has called for its supporters to hold a public meeting there at 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT).
 
Governor Mutlu warned against renewed demonstrations.
 
“Blocking the parks, making them areas for demonstrations, preventing children, elderly and people from using these areas and turning this into a security problem - we would never ever allow that,” he said.
 
Four people were killed and 7,500 wounded in last month's police crackdown, according to the Turkish Medical Association.
 
The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner pressed Turkey on Monday to investigate reports police used excessive force to contain the protests and punish anyone found guilty.
 
Last week it emerged that a Turkish court had canceled the Taksim Square redevelopment project, including the construction of the replica barracks, although the state authorities can appeal against the ruling.
 
The ruling marked a victory for the coalition against the project and a blow for Erdogan, who stood firm against protests and riots he said were stoked by terrorists and looters.
 
Erdogan has said he would wait for the judicial process to be completed before proceeding with the Taksim plans, one of several large projects for Istanbul, including a major airport, a large Mosque and a canal to ease Bosphorus traffic.
 
The protests were unprecedented in Erdogan's rule, which began in 2002 with the election of his AK Party. He has pressed  significant reforms in the economy and curtailed the power of a military that had toppled four governments in four decades.
 
Opponents argue that during the June unrest he appealed increasingly to Islamist elements of his AK Party faithful.
 
If Turkey's top administrative court subsequently rules in favor of the development on appeal, Erdogan has still pledged to hold a referendum in Istanbul on the government's plan. But he will drop the project if the court rejects it.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid