Even as Istanbul residents celebrated the reopening of Gezi Park, the small green space in the center of this city that sparked anti-government protests throughout Turkey last month, another demolition and another demonstration were busy getting underway. This time, gardens inside Istanbul's old city walls that date back to the 6th century are the target. But will Gezi Park provide a lesson to shape both officials’ and protesters’ response?
After being closed by authorities for weeks, the park, fresh with new flowers, was briefly reopened to the public on July 8. An Istanbul court ruled in June that a government-proposed renovation of Gezi did not serve the public good, though an appeal is expected.
But the park did not stay open for long. After three hours, police shut it down again ahead of an evening demonstration by the Taksim Solidarity Platform, the umbrella protest group that formerly occupied the park.
Hundreds of anti-government protesters tried to reach the site and adjoining Taksim Square, but were foiled by riot police who blocked Taksim off from all sides and used tear gas to scatter protesters into side streets.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.