Units of municipal watchmen were stopped by the police on Wednesday as they moved to enforce a court order for the Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA) to vacate a municipality-owned hall in Istanbul’s Prince’s Islands.
“A foundation refused to vacate the Büyükada Ferry Pier despite a court order, and the eviction is hindered,” Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) Spokesman Murat Ongun said in a tweet. “There are no legal obstacles against the eviction. Defending this foundation against the İBB goes against administrative procedures.”
“The foundation said they were raising a conscious youth in Büyükada, but they turned the pier into a for-profit commercial area,” Ongun said, posting photos from events.
TÜGVA, which has Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal on its advisory board, called the police when municipal units attempted to carry out the eviction, daily BirGün reported. Police officers blocked entry to the pier building.
Journalist Nevşin Mengü said the top floor of the building was sublet to third parties, in violation of the lease agreement between the municipality and TÜGVA.
“After the legal proceedings concluded, the top floor went back to the İBB,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman for the Prince’s Islands district told BirGün. “The İBB was set to open the space up for public use after handling necessary repairs. Municipal units were removing the furniture inside to prepare the space when the police arrived and stopped the eviction in an overreach of their authority.”
“CHP politicians took municipal police with them to raid our building,” TÜGVA board member Emrah Atila said in a tweet on Thursday. “Our colleagues asked for an eviction order, they could not show one.”
“The police asked the CHP members for the eviction order, but they could not bring one for eight hours. Our lawyers also asked for the order, but they could not provide it because it does not exist,” said Atila.
“Could Canan Kaftancıoğlu show that eviction order to our nation?” TÜGVA Chairman Enes Eminoğlu said in a press statement in front of the building on Thursday, referencing CHP’s Istanbul provincial chairwoman.
Kaftancıoğlu, in a protest organised by the CHP, said the foundation was “shameless” and had “sat itself down on top of Istanbul’s residents’ property”.
“The Büyükada Pier belongs to the people. We will keep watch here until it is returned to the people,” Kaftancıoğlu said, according to Halk TV.
Halk TV reporter Hazar Dost shared two court orders for the eviction of the foundation later in the day.
The Istanbul municipality had annulled TÜGVA’s rental contract in February 2020, citing unlawful subletting. When the foundation refused to vacate the premises then, the municipality sent another notice in September. When that was ignored as well, the İBB appealed to the Prince’s Islands District Governorate for an eviction in January this year, Halk TV said.
The eviction was postponed until February, and then again until May. In July, an administrative court ruled in favour of the İBB. It has been more than 60 days after the final notice was delivered to the foundation, clearing the municipality of remaining responsibility and allowing the eviction.