Last update:
2014-06-02

Taksim Square and Gezi Park construction works, Turkey

Description:

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
Name of conflict:Taksim Square and Gezi Park construction works, Turkey
Country:Turkey
State or province:Istanbul
Location of conflict:Beyoglu
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Tourism services
Trees, Green Areas, Urban Park
Project Details and Actors
Project details

During 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.

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Level of Investment:25,000,000 - 150,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:12/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Kalyon Construction Group from Turkey
Relevant government actors:Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality; Cultural and Natural Heritage Conservation Board; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan;
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Taksim 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);
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Wastepickers, recyclers
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Trade chambers; Political Parties; Students; Whitecollar professionals;
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Strikes
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Boycotts of companies-products
Impacts
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-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of cultural heritage, loss of or damage of historical artifacts
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Fostering a culture of peace
Project cancelled
Development of alternatives:During 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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
Contributor:Mahmut Boynudelik, Korhan Gumus, Betul Tanbay
Last update02/06/2014
Comments
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