By Manolis Kostidis – Istanbul
Turkish authorities have re-opened Gezi park which had been closed since June 15th when Turkish police invaded the park to violently remove protestors. Since that date, Istanbul municipality crews begun to restore the park.
The uprooting of trees by the municipality’s bulldozers in order to build a shopping center resembling old Ottoman military barracks had caused people’s reaction that were followed by large protests.
Violent police intervention came soon after resulting in episodes spreading and transforming into anti-government demonstrations that shook the entire country. Erdogan was adamant for several weeks that the construction of the shopping center will go ahead inside the park.
Up until Sunday night entrance to the park was prohibited by police as means of deterrence of protests as restoration was underway in Gezi.
Istanbul prefect Avni Mutlu and mayor Kadir Topbas attended the re-opening of the park.
“The park is great. Our people will be able to enjoy it all day. Parks are for the people. Nobody can divide them. We will not allow any illegal actions here” the prefect said.
While Turkish authorities announced putting up tents and staging events in Gezi park will not be allowed, they did stress some events for the Ramadan (the Muslim fasting period) will be held there.
Surprisingly, after the Erdogan government decided to uproot trees in order to build a shopping center in the park about a month ago, it now planted 129 trees, 5.000 rose bushes and 202.000 other flowers. The municipality is attempting to demonstrate its environmental concerns and the Turkish Prime Minister seems to be backing down from his original plan that caused large protests and clashes with police.
Last week, an Istanbul court had ruled construction work on the shopping center in Gezi park be brought to a halt.