Taksim Square: Turkish Court reverses disputed park project


Protestors gather in Taksim Square on June 4, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.


Uriel Sinai

A Turkish court has canceled the building project in Istanbul's Taksim Square that was the catalyst of last month's protests.

A court decision showed the project had violated preservation rules around the historic square.

The decision, a blow to Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who supported the building of the replica of an Ottoman-era barracks, could still be reversed if challenged by authorities.

The administrative court was said to have made the decision at the height of the protests, which quickly morphed into an indictment of Erdogan's ruling style.

Protestors accused the government of becoming more authoritarian and religiously conservative.

"This decision applies to all of the work at Taksim Square ... The public-works project that was the basis for the work has been canceled," Can Atalay, a lawyer for the Chamber of Architects that opposed the destruction of the park, told Reuters.

"I expect the other side will definitely appeal this decision but in the meantime, they must abide by it and that means removing police from Taksim and allowing citizens to return to Gezi Park," Atalay told Reuters.

The protests against the destruction of the park and major building project escalated over several weeks after police used heavy-handed tactics to eject the demonstrators.

Four people died and thousands were wounded during the protests.

The situation ended in mid-June after police finally cleared the square.