Bianet: Demonstrators plant trees against destruction in Taksim Gezi Park

Taksim Dayanışması, a solidarity group, reiterated its position against the construction in Taksim Gezi Park, claiming that the City Preservation Council requested stakeholder municipalities to investigate the legal grounds of the ongoing construction. Starting from the night of May 27, dozens of volunteers resumed their patrols around Taksim Gezi Park – one of the few remaining green spots in downtown Istanbul. Following the police intervention and attacks, a group of activists set up tents and launched a campaign against the planned construction of a shopping mall in the area. The group started a petition and planted trees in the park where a handful of trees were uprooted yesterday. Roughly 40 tents were set to provide accommodation for activists last night. Nearby cafes sent out canteens for snacks at night, while everyone pitched in to buy breakfast in the morning. Throughout the night, over 40,000 watched the demonstration online at, a channel that is expected to continue broadcasting tonight as well. Mücella Yapıcı, an activist from Taksim Dayanışması, read a statement that reiterated their position against the construction in Taksim Gezi Park and urged officials to take up their duties. Cem Tüzün, another activist from Taksim Dayanışması, told bianet that they had a meeting with the officials from Istanbul 2nd Culture Heritage Preservation Council. He claimed that the council requested municipalities of Istanbul and Beyoğlu to investigate the legal grounds of the ongoing construction.

“Struggle against hydroelectric plants, 3rd bridge, corruption”

The group’s statement said along with the park project they were also against the ongoing projects on Emek Movie Theatre, 3rd bosphorus bridge, new airport, hydroelectric power plants, transformation of Kuşdili area and relocation of schools, hospitals.

“Preservation Council requested legal grounds”

Tüzün, on the other hand, added the following: “In order to stop the ungrounded interventions to 200-177the park and alleviate its consequences, Ayaspaşa Assocation, Taksim Gezi Park Preservation and Embellishment Association, and Chamber of Architects Istanbul Chapter respectively made applications. Tüzün explained their meeting with council officials as follows: “Preservation Council verbally told us that they have requested information from municipalities of Istanbul and Beyoğlu to investigate the legal grounds of the ongoing construction.” He also added that they have demanded the copies of the documents but officials refused to provide them saying that they were between two official institutions. The statement also acknowledged press representatives who were subjected to the police violence during demonstrations. Bülent Ünal, a cameraman from Ulusal Kanal who were hit in the head during the protests, told bianet that even though activists showed no intentions to use violence during their protest, police acted as if “they were facing an enemy”. “Activists were also struggling so that their children could see the green. Why this hostility?” he said.

“Who will resist, if we don’t?”

Bianet spoke with activist who volunteered to patrol around the park area. Çağdaş, an activist who 200-254spent the night at the park and experienced the police violence, said the public support increased dramatically over the course of the protests and everybody preferred to see public properties remained to the public and not individuals. “I have no doubt about our solidarity here, but everybody is worried about violence and fascism that the government is inflicting. Residing nearby to the park, Saltuk said: “Yesterday I was here to walk my dog. How can you ever leave this place?” Deniz, on the other hand, said the following: “They have started to invade where we would breathe. We are here until the destruction is over. This belongs to all of us. If we don’t, who will resist? And while we are trying to protect here, they are taking over Beşiktaş, there is vandalism everywhere. Everybody should hold on to at least one location. Everybody is immunized against tear gas anyways.” (BK/HK/BM)

29 May 2013
Beyza Kural