Presdient Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that the “Topçu Barracks” will be built in Taksim’s symbolic Gezi Park.
“We will reconstruct that historical building,” Erdoğan stated, in reference to the barracks. He added that the government needs to be “brave.”
“We will not be afraid,” Erdoğan said.
Plans to build the barracks in Taksim had caused an outrage in Turkey back in 2013, which eventually led to the Gezi protests.
The project to turn Taksim Square into a pedestrian zone was initially approved by the government in February 2012. The project included the construction of replicas of buildings that once stood in the square but had previously been demolished, such as the historic Topçu Barracks, a 35,000-square-meter building that was demolished by İstanbul authorities in 1940. The government was forced to step back from the plan, however, as the approval of the project sparked nationwide protests in May 2013.
The Gezi Park demonstrations started in late May 2013 quickly turned into widespread protests, largely due to police brutality which attracted heavy criticism from around the world. The events began when a group of environmentalists from the Taksim Platform gathered in Gezi Park to protest the government’s plans to build a replica of the barracks over the park. Hundreds joined the group after the police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse them.
Erdoğan also said that an opera house will be built in Taksim after demolishing the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM).