Istanbul’s Gezi Park, the birthplace of deadly unrest that engulfed Turkey last month, will reopen to the public, authorities announced on Saturday, warning that no further protests there would be tolerated.
“We intend to reopen Gezi Park on Sunday or Monday at the latest so that it is available for people to use,” said Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu.
But, he continued, “parks are not places for protests. They must serve as a place of calm and tranquility for all people.” A brutal police crackdown on May 31 against a peaceful sit-in to save 600 trees in the park sparked June’s nationwide protests against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-rooted government. Protesters occupied the small park day and night before being evicted by police on June 15.
Since then, the park has been closed. But in the face of public anger, authorities planted additional trees and a Turkish court annulled a government decision to redevelop the park, saying locals had not been sufficiently consulted about the project.
Residents feared the redevelopment plan would turn the area into a shopping district, while urban planners and ecologists said the proposals did not respect the environment.