Violent Clashes Erupt as Protestors Try to Save Istanbul Park

What began as a peaceful gathering in central Instanbul erupted in violence Friday morning, as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands protesting the redevelopment of a treasured park as a shopping center.

"Just nine acres in size, Gezi Park would be but a blip on the map in cities such as New York, with its 843-acre Central Park," writes Jennifer Hattam. "But in Istanbul, where only 1.5 percent of land area is devoted to public green space — less than in crowded Tokyo or Shanghai, but far behind New York (14 percent) or London (38.4 percent) — it is a rare oasis."

"The battle over Gezi Park has become a symbol of opposition to the massive urban upheaval currently underway in Istanbul," she explains. "In addition to the Taksim Project, ground broke this week on a controversial third bridge across the Bosphorus Strait. Opponents say the bridge and the new roads to go along with it will destroy forested areas and further hasten the city's rapid sprawl without solving its congestion problems."

"There's been zero public process, zero public support, zero public information," says Betül Tanbay, a professor at Boğaziçi University and a member of the Taksim Platform activist group. "We tried to have a dialogue with the municipality; we didn't say that nothing should be changed [at Taksim]. We said, let's discuss it together. As citizens, we deserve to be part of the plans — we don't want them to be made behind doors and declared during construction."

Full Story: Violence, Tear Gas Greet Protests to Save One of the Last Public Parks in Istanbul

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