Turkish officials have hinted at plans to go ahead with the controversial redevelopment of Gezi Park in the country’s largest city of Istanbul, which sparked deadly clashes last year.
On Tuesday, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality announced that it wants to construct a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks, known as the Topcu Kislasi in Turkish, under a 5.4-million-dollar project named “The Urban Reconstruction of Taksim Square and the Taksim Barracks.”
The announcement has raised eyebrows among opponents of the destruction of Gezi Park.
On May 31, 2013, Turkish police broke up a sit-in at Istanbul’s Taksim Square against the proposed demolition of the park.
Nationwide demonstrations were launched against the ruling Justice and Development Party and then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is currently the country’s president, with police using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators.
Erdogan, who came under fire over the heavy-handed handling of the demonstrations, described the protesters as vandals, looters or terrorists, and alleged the demonstrations are part of a plot to topple his government.
Eight people died and thousands were injured in the protests. The Turkish government also arrested many activists, among them high school students, on allegations of inciting unrest.