Turkey's top court allows building of controversial barracks

Turkey’s highest ranking court to allow reconstruction of Topcu Barracks in Taksim Square after cancelling decision of regional court during Gezi Park protests

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported on Wednesday that Turkey’s highest ranking judicial institution, the Council of State, has cancelled the decision by a regional court disallowing the rebuilding of the Ottoman Artillery Barracks, publicly known as “Topcu Barracks,” near Gezi Park in Taksim in Istanbul.

The controversial project previously ignited the of Gezi Park protests.

The Istanbul 1st Regional Court ruled to cancel the construction of the Barracks alongside its accompanying Taksim pedestrianisation project on June 6, 2013, during the Gezi Park protests.

The Council of State decided to renew the case following the final decision of the Istanbul 6th Regional Court upheld the ban on the construction project. The  Istanbul 6th Regional Court reviewed the original decision by the Istanbul 1st Regional Court at the request of Istanbul Municipality.

On Nov. 8, 2012, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas announced plans to rebuild the Topcu Barracks which had been demolished in 1940 in location of Gezi Park, as a part of a Taksim Square pedestrianisation project.

The Topcu Barracks was planned to include a large park, shops and a mosque in place of the area containing Gezi Park, a small park near the center of Taksim Square.

When the redevelopment began on May 27, 2013 in a small part of Gezi Park, a group of activists from Taksim Solidarity - a civil group formed against the project since it was introduced - gathered in the park to prevent the construction of the project and the removal of trees from the park.

The day after, Turkish pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy of Istanbul Sirri Sureyya Onder supported the protestors and intervened in the removal of trees by climbing onto the bulldozer. Police were unable to take action against him due to his parliamentary immunity.

However, on May 31, police organised a dawn operation to disperse the protesters from the park and used “disproportionate force” according to a court decision.

A court case was later filed against then Istanbul Deputy Police Chief Ramazan Emekli, accusing him of misconduct for giving the order to intervene.

Following the incident, images were published in media showing the burning of the protesters’ tents. The Gezi Park protests then spread nationwide against the Turkish government, with protesters claiming to be demonstrating against police brutality.

TRTWorld and agencies