Gezi Park Stays, Turkish Court Rules

Istanbul, Taksim Square, Gezi Park, protests, Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan Istanbul’s Gezi Park is currently safe from being demolished to make way for a re-development scheme pushed by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. In early June, a court ruled in favor of the project’s opponents, when anti-government protests were at their peak, but the ruling was only recently released.

Similarly to Israel’s tent city and the Occupy movement in the United States, a small group of opponents to the destruction of one of Istanbul’s last urban parks set up tents in Gezi Park to deter construction crews from uprooting trees.

Authorities swiftly responded with unnecessary force, sparking widespread protests in cities across the country. Four people were killed and as many as 7,500 injured, Reuters reports.

The court overruled the redevelopment project in early June, even as people continued to live in spontaneous camps in Taksim Square and the nearby park, but officials are expected to appeal the decision.

According to Reuters, Erdogan said that he would wait until after the appeals process before pushing ahead with the Taksim Square development project.

Ostensibly in order to keep pace with the west, Turkey has pursued a suite of construction and energy projects in recent months. And while some incorporate renewable energy, the great majority are opposed by environmental and social critics as being completely unsustainable and shortsighted.

New roads and shopping malls are expected to increase traffic and obliterate whatever green is left in Istanbul, dam projects threaten human rights in downstream countries and disrupt local ecology, and new green-washed towers will require inordinate quantities of water and energy to erect and maintain.

For a closer look, see our list of five of the most unsustainable developments in Turkey that are either on the table or underway.

If the government unsuccessfully appeals the Taksim Square ruling, it will be a huge boon for the coalition force that opposed the project, and perhaps appease the masses who argue that Erdogan has taken an increasingly hard, Islamic line in recent years.

Plus it will be a small victory for the brave civilians who stood up for Gezi in the first place, and inspire future would-be environmental activists.

:: Reuters

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