ISTANBUL/ Taksim Project and movement

Taksim Project and movement

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Pedestrianisation of Taksim Square. (Snapshots from Taksim project video from the government)

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Underpass proposed in the Taksim Project. (Snapshots from Taksim project video from the government)

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Rebuilding the former Artillery Barracks which was demolished 70 years ago. (Snapshots from Taksim project video from the government)

Recently, The government decided to activate the urban renewal at Taksim Square and as a part of the modernization process of Turkey. The first plans for the urban renewal of Taksim Square were released in the fall of 2012. The main renewal strategy is the pedestrianization of Taksim Square. All the roads that crossed Taksim Square would be translocated into an underpass of the Square. This underpass will comprise 26.890 m² and have a length of 1.2m. This alteration would increase the pedestrian area to 92.500m². Also, the Gezi Park would be demolished for the reconstruction of the Artillery Barracks and which means one of the last green spots in the modernized turkey will find its end. The plan also include the redevelopment of the Artillery Barracks which would partly served as a shopping mall, including “cultural centres, an opera house and a mosque”.

 

With the negative reviews from the public, the government proposed new plans in October 2012 to make the whole urban renewal proposal more acceptable for the public. In the new proposal, some green spots were added to the place which are to redeem the lost of large green area of Gezi Park.

 

Obviously, citizens are not willing to accept the new proposal as they perceived the old charm of Taksim Square is lost and replaced by a very superficial modernization which is not beneficial to the citizens. Therefore, protests started on 27th May 2013 with a small group of people pitched their tents in the Taksim Square to intervene the construction work, which had already started. In the following day, the number of protesters rose and gained more attention from the general public. The police forces started to intervene the protest by using tear gases and burned the tents. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdogan released a speech of the stand of the government towards the protest and the urban renewal project of Taksim Square, he explained that no matter what the protesters would do, the renewal plan were not going to be stopped.

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Police brutality  source: everywheretaksim.net

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Innocent public under the attack of tear gas. Source: everywheretaksim.net

With the aid of social media like twitter and facebook and also mainstream social media like newspaper and radio shows, the world was aware of the Taksim movement. Many more famous celebrities in turkey and people in different cities like Ankara, Izmir and Adana people started to voice out their objections to the renewal plans. The famous Turkish rock band “Duman”, who released an album in 2013 during the Taksim Movement to show their support to the Taksim movement.The song entitled as “Eyvallah” in the album became the anthem of the protests

 

“Biberine gazına, Cobuna sopasına, Tekmelerin hasina, Eyvalllah eyvallah, Saldırın bana utanmadan sıkılmadan, Gözlerim yanar ama ezilmedim azalmadım, Özgürüm dedim hala, Haklıyım dedim hala sana, İnsanım dedim hala, Vazgeçermiyim söyle bana.” (Duman, 2013)

 

In the lyrics, the band called for unity and resistance to the police brutality by saying, “Thank you for the tear gas and the strokes, I will be resistant, I am in the right , I am human.”
With the great oppression of the renewal plans for the Taksim Square, the court decided the construction works at Gezi Park should be stopped for the moment and the police forces withdrew.

 

 

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Infographic showing the events and datum of Taksim movement.

Reference:

The band “Duman” – Eyvallah. In: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpvUSjaSeLg

Bonn, “Urban renewal and its political implications at Taksim Square in Istanbul”,2014

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