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Erdogan to go ahead with controversial Gezi park redevelopment plans

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced the revival of controversial plans to redevelop a central Istanbul park that sparked major anti-government protests back in 2013.    

"A project that we need to address in a courageous manner is (that of) Gezi park in Taksim. We will build this historic structure," said Erdogan during a Saturday speech in Istanbul.

The plans consist of rebuilding an Ottoman-era barrack and other buildings on land currently occupied by Gezi park, which is one of the few remaining green spaces in Istanbul. The barracks was originally built in 1789 and was torn down in the 1940.

Protesters holding a banner that reads "We want justice for Bervin Elvan" march during a demonstration in the Okmeydani district on June 16, 2016 in Istanbul, to mark the third anniversary of the shooting of the youngest victim of the 2013 Gezi park protests.  (AFP)

At least eight people were killed and thousands more were injured in the demonstrations which followed the announcement of the redevelopment plans.

Protestors and Turkish anti-riot police clash on May 31, 2016 in Istanbul, during a demonstration commemorating the third anniversary of the start of the Gezi park protests.

Following the wave of protests, Turkish authorities halted the plans. But, last year, they changed their decision following a request by the city’s municipality. 

"If we want to preserve our history we must rebuild this historic structure, we will rebuild it," Erdogan added.

This picture shows a general view of Gezi park in Istanbul on May 31, 2015 as Turkish police officers cordon off the park. Turkish police tightened security around Istanbul's Taksim square, on the second anniversary of the mass anti-government protests that rocked the square in 2013. (AFP)

“One of the issues that we have to be brave [about] is Gezi park in Taksim,” Erdogan added. “We will construct that historical building there,” he said.

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