• Turkey court blocks park project that caused protests

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    ISTANBUL: A court in Turkey has scrapped a controversial plan to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi Park that sparked protests, which snowballed into deadly nationwide unrest, media reported on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

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    The administrative court justified its ruling, made last month but only revealed by Turkish media on Wednesday, by saying that the “local population” had not been sufficiently consulted about the redevelopment project.

    The court also said the plan “violates the preservation laws in force and the identity of [Taksim] square and of Gezi Park,” according to the Zaman and Hurriyet dailies.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on June 14, at the height of the protests that left four dead and 8,000 injured, that he would respect the court’s decision and ordered a halt to construction work.

    A peaceful sit-in to save Gezi Park’s 600 trees from being razed prompted a brutal police response on May 31, spiralling into nationwide outpourings of anger against Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), seen as increasingly authoritarian.

    The violence has eased since police evicted protesters from Gezi Park on June 15.

    But the protests saw some 2.5 million people taking to the streets in dozens of cities across the country in the most serious challenge to Erdogan’s rule since the AKP took office in 2002.

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