Taksim Square and Gezi Park construction works, Turkey


Two different and interrelated arrangements are planned for Taksim Square. Pedestrianisation is planned at the square by taking the roads underground via tunnels. Yet the placement of ramps in such an important urban public space would prevent pedestrian use and actually make entrances to the square difficult, opponents claim. The square has a very important role in urban memory (especially for demonstration meetings) that could not then be organized because of the entrance difficulties.

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Basic Data
NameTaksim Square and Gezi Park construction works, Turkey
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesTrees, Green Areas, Urban Park
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDuring the tender process which began on 30.08.2012, 9 companies placed bids; Kalyon Construction gave the lowest offer of 51,555,370 Turkish Lira and undertook the Harbiye-Tarlabasi diving tunnel construction. The company finished the construction of this diving tunnel in early September, 2013. The other parts of the plans could not be finalized due to social unrest and the pedestrianisation of the square is now on hold, leaving an ugly, useless, and big mass of concrete above the ground.

With a decision on the early May, 2014, the state council cancelled all the plans related to the redesign, pedestrianisation, and re-building of the old military barracks; making the already completed tunnel an illegal construction.
Level of Investment (in USD)25,000,000 - 150,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date12/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesKalyon Construction Group from Turkey
Relevant government actorsIstanbul Metropolitan Municipality; Cultural and Natural Heritage Conservation Board; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan;
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTaksim Solidarity (which includes trade associations, local associations and political parties); Chamber of Architects; Chamber of City Planners; Ayaspasa Association (close neighbourhood association); Cihangir Association (close neighbourhood association);
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingEthnically/racially discriminated groups
Local ejos
Trade unions
International ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Wastepickers, recyclers
Informal workers
Trade chambers; Political Parties; Students; Whitecollar professionals;
Recreational users
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Street protest/marches
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Development of a network/collective action
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Boycotts of companies-products
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
OtherLoss of cultural heritage, loss of or damage of historical artifacts
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Negotiated alternative solution
Project cancelled
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Fostering a culture of peace
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesDuring the protests in the early June, 2013, the Taksim Solidarity requested the following concrete measures from the government:

• Gezi Park must stay as a park. An official announcement must be made saying that Gezi Park

will not be converted to military barracks or any other building.

• Governors and police chiefs, and anyone else who ordered, enforced or implemented violent

repression tactics must resign.

• The use of teargas bombs and other similar materials must be prohibited.

• Detained citizens must be released immediately.

• The prohibition of meetings, rallies, demonstrations and de facto hindrance in the squares and

public areas across the country, starting with Taksim Square as a demonstration area for Labor Day (May 1), and Kızılay Square in Ankara, must be rescinded; obstacles to freedom of speech must be lifted.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project was stopped following the protests and the Gezi Park is still preserved as a park. The municipality even took the further effort to rehabilitate the park. Furthermore, the collective spirit born from the protests reshaped the whole resistance culture of the country. Leftists, nationalists, religious groups and bankers – people who never would have previously passed the time of day – are united. The occupation of Gezi Park was not just meant to save trees, but to save Turkey’s democracy.
Sources and Materials

Newspaper Article: Geri sayim basladi (In Turkish - Haberturk):
[click to view]

Turkey’s Tree Revolution – part 2: Everyday I’m chapulling*
[click to view]

A year after the protests, Gezi Park nurtures the seeds of a new Turkey
[click to view]

Website of the Taksim Platform (Turkish):
[click to view]

Newspaper article: Yesil Gazete soruyor:Taksimde kaziklar kime? (In Turkish - Yesil Gazete):
[click to view]

Media Links

Documentary - Turkey's Civil Revolt: Istanbul Rising (Vice)
[click to view]

Documentary - Gezi Parkı Belgesel (Parkın Açılışı ve Kapanışı )
[click to view]

Other Documents

Gezi Park - Tip of the Iceberg
[click to view]

View from the protests
[click to view]

Everyday I'm chapulling
[click to view]

Demands of the Taksim Solidarity
[click to view]

Banners on AKM
[click to view]

Plans of the barracks Two different image is used for showing the barracks: One with more trees than other
[click to view]

Turkey's map of environmental injustices in the park
[click to view]

Women in red This image is from the early days of the protests and became a symbol of the police brutality against the peaceful protests.

Photo credit: Osman Orsal - Reuters
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMahmut Boynudelik, Korhan Gumus, Betul Tanbay
Last update02/06/2014