Gov’t to comply with court ruling suspending Gezi Park’s demolition if appeal fails

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The government will comply with a court decision that suspended the demolition of Gezi Park, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik said in the early hours of June 14, following a late night meeting between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and delegation of 16 representatives of the protesters in Ankara that lasted nearly four hours. Erdoğan held a surprise meeting for a second consecutive day with a new delegation that comprised members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which had been at the centre of the protests since the first day, and eight artists that had been outspoken in their support for the demos.

Referring to a court ruling on the suspension of the planned Artillery Barracks project that is set to be built instead of Gezi two weeks ago, Çelik said that in the case that the appeal failed, the site would be kept as a park. In the case the project received green light from the appeal instance, Çelik said that the government wished to organize a referendum regarding Gezi Park’s fate. 

“Turkey is a state of law. It is impossible for the executive branch to perform an unlawful act. There is a court decision, the government must conform to it,” he said. Çelik added that the park will be kept untouched until the court’s decision.

Members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform expressed their satisfaction with the government’s commitment to the court’s decision. “We will react positively to this positive stance,” said the Taksim Platform’s Secratary Tayfun Kahraman. 

‘Protesters will decide if they end demos’

Çelik said that the issue of the use of disproportionate force by the police was also discussed during the meeting. “They asked for sensibility on this issue. If it is determined [that an officer] has committed a crime, he will be punished as foreseen by the law,” Çelik said.

During his press briefing, Çelik reiterated his call for the end of protests at Gezi Park. “I address the young people that gathered for the environment: Go back into your warm beds at home.”

For their part, the representatives of the Taksim Platform announced a gathering to commemorate the deaths during the protests in the afternoon hours of June 14, but said that they left the decision of ending the demos to the protesters. “All started with a sensibility directed to the park. The sensitive people will make their own decisions, the same way that they took action with after the [police] violence,” Eyüp Muhçu from the Taksim Platform told reporters. 

Eight artists, among whom Halit Ergenç, the lead actor from the TV series “Süleyman the Magnificent” and popular singer Sertab Erener, who have been very outspoken in support of the protests, were also among the participants. Poet Sunay Akın, singers Mahsun Kurmızıgül and Yavuz Bingöl, actress Ceyda Düvenci, actor Ali Sunal and producer Nebil Özgentürk also made the trip to Ankara.

Ergenç told reporters on behalf of the artists that the prime minister had listened carefully their concerns and solution proposals. “They assured us that they will not take any steps that is incompatible with the court’s ruling,” he said.

Erdoğan had previously defied the court’s ruling by questioning its impartiality and had insisted that the decision of constructing the historic barracks was irreversible. 

However, following meeting with a first delegation on June 12, the government had raised the possibility of organizing a referendum over the demolition of Gezi Park. The demonstrators had initially objected to this proposition, reminding the court’s ruling that already rendered illegal any attempt to demolish the park.

Erdoğan had also repeated that his patience was running out on June 13, asking for the immediate end of the protest. The group had responded asking concrete steps to meet their demands, especially regarding the investigation of those responsible for the heavy police crackdowns in the first days of the protests.

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