Government takes over Gezi Park from İstanbul Municipality, hands it over to ‘non-existent’ foundation

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An aerial picture shows a general view of iconic Taksim square and Gezi park of Istanbul on April 19, 2020, as Turkish government announced a two-day curfew to prevent the spread of the epidemic COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)

The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) has criticized the government’s decision to take away the property of Gezi Park from it.

The decision was intended to prevent the new Taksim Square project, the municipality said in a statement.

Gezi Park has symbolic importance as the government’s attempt to rebuild Ottoman-era artillery barracks on it led to countrywide protests in 2013.

The “non-existent” foundation

On March 12, the property of the park was handed over to the General Directorate of Foundations, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The transfer was based on article 30 of the Foundations Law, which says foundation assets that have become the property of the Treasury, municipalities, special administrations or village legal entities will be handed over to registered foundations.

The General Directorate of Foundations handed the park over to the “Sultan Beyazıt Hanı Veli Hazretleri Vakfı.”

Queries of the general directorate’s website show no results regarding such a foundation.

The Taksim Square project

The municipality, which is led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said that the government’s attitude towards itself had been far from seeking “dialogue, consensus, common sense and cooperation” since the 2019 local elections.

The government had rather tried to put obstacles on it and usurped its authority, the municipality said and noted that such “hostile” decisions against it would continue.

“… As citing law articles doesn’t make these decisions lawful, it doesn’t justify them in people’s conscience. A short time ago, the Galata Tower, which had been under the ownership of the IMM, was seized in the same way,” says the municipality statement.

The municipality also noted that it was about to start the new Taksim Square project to make the square a green area again. The Gezi Park decision was intended to prevent the project, it asserted.

The new design of Taksim Square was chosen by İstanbulites’ votes in November.

“It is possible to seize every valuable building and every valuable space by exploiting the laws in an ancient city like İstanbul. Although similar decisions have been made before, none were made for areas of such historical and symbolic significance.

“Therefore, we never consider decisions taken overnight without even contacting the IMM as steps with good intentions and for the benefit of the people.

“We will continue our legal struggle against these decisions.” (AS/VK)

Source: Bianet

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