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Diyarbakir's Sur residents call for housing justice

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Diyarbakir's Sur residents call for housing justice

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon May 11, 2020 10:03 pm

Sur residents want justice
from Turkey - fat chance

Displaced residents of destroyed Diyarbakir quarter call for housing justice from Turkish government


Protesters displaced from their homes in Diyarbakir's ancient Sur quarter five years ago took to the city's municipality ministry office earlier this week, calling for housing justice from the government.

Sur suffered heavy damage during intense fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants while the Turkish government were destroying many of Sur's ancient buildings.

Residents of six of Sur's most severely impacted neighborhoods have been barred by the government from returning home ever since.

Once fighting ended, Ankara indefinitely seized the vast majority of properties in these neighborhoods. The government said it would redevelop the destroyed area, but opponents say its redevelopment excludes its once poorer, mostly Kurdish residents in favour of rich buyers.

Police put to an early stop to the protest, organised by the Sur Victims Platform - an organisation made up of locals displaced from their homes.

"I call upon our president. He made us a promise in front of the Grand Mosque. Now the municipality ministry says Ankara will not give us our homes and property. We don’t believe it. What will Ankara do to our homes and property? They sell our homes to the rich. My president, listen to our voices," Sur Victims Platform spokesperson Mohmammed Kaya said.

Among the protesters is Kocero Topdemir. He is both the mayor of Sur's Cemal Yilmaz neighborhood and a victim of the expropriations. Topdemir can only gaze upon his confiscated home and neighborhood from the distant rooftops of Diyarbakir's tallest buildings.

"My house was partially damaged, but not ruined," Topdemir said. "My house is both historic and registered. They have neither renovated the house, nor do they allow us to do it."

According to state media, officials say that over 5,000 homes have been built elsewhere in Diyarbakir for the displaced, and over 100 million liras of financial assistance has been provided.

But Topdemir said that some of the displaced have yet to be given a new home, and instead live in temporary accomodation.

"The people have become victims, they live in rental [houses], and they are miserable."

According to the Turkish constitution, the state has ultimate power over property seizure. Victims can use the courts only to to appeal against the estimated value of their property and ask for compensation - not reclaim their properties.

Turkish officials declined to comment on the protests ... y/09052020
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Diyarbakir's Sur residents call for housing justice



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