We denounce the Erdogan regime for mass eviction, demolition and militarization in Suriçi

By ILPS – Philippines

The Philippines chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) strongly denounce the Erdoğan regime in Turkey for the mass eviction, demolition and militarization of the 7,000 year old fortress area of Metropolitan Diyarbakır known as Suriçi (Walled City) in Southeastern Turkey.

The Council of Ministers of Turkey, headed by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (who resigned on  May  2016 and replaced by Mr. Binali Yıldırım), issued an Expropriation Decree in late March ordering the immediate expropriation of all non-state-owned lands of Suriçi — comprising 6,292 of 7,714 parcels or 82% of the total lands of the Sur District in Diyarbakır.

The large-scale military operations since December 2015 already displaced 23,000 inhabitants in the area. Application of the Decree entails the forced eviction and dispossession of another 27,000 inhabitants, affecting 14,764 households and Suriçi’s entire population of 50,341.

Since the cease-fire between the Government of Turkey and the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) ended in July  2015, armed conflict has displaced at least 355,000 people (February  2016) and curfews have affected some 1,642,000 residents in at least 22 districts of seven cities across Turkey’s southeast.

From August 2015 to April 2016, at least 338 civilians (78 children, 69 females, 30 elderly people) lost their lives under curfew.

Demolition  of  the  quarter is  ongoing,  with  some  1,100  buildings partially  or  completely  destroyed,  including precious  world heritage sites. Protected buildings, such as Kurşunlu Mosque, Sheikh Muhattar Mosque, Pasha Hamam, Mehmed Uzun Museum House and other historical civil buildings and historic shops at Yeni Kapı Street were partially or totally destroyed.

The Diyarbakır Fortress and the adjacent Hevsel Gardens form a cultural landscape that extends between the city and the River Tigris. The site was classified as world heritage by UNESCO in 2012.

Local inhabitants have expressed their conviction that the security operations seek to empty the historic center of its indigenous  population ahead  of  an  urban-transformation drive.

Clashes continue between the PKK and the Turkish army. A number of Kurdish citizens joined the armed struggle, mainly led by youth reportedly linked to YDG-H. In a dozen cities, local youth took up arms in what they brand a “self-defense” strategy, and took control of the cities by patrolling their streets. They dug trenches built barricades to prevent the police and army entry into the neighborhoods.

We are one with the Kurdish people in Surici in demanding:

  • Immediately cease demolitions occurring in Suriçi and end the excessive curfews;
  • Cancel the Expropriation Decree and reverse any measure undertaken to implement it;
  • Provide reparations for the displaced population for damaged property and suffering endured during forced evictions;
  • Undertake investigations and ensure accountability and liability of security forces and political authorities for their human rights and humanitarian law violations and consequences;
  • Take urgent measures to guarantee the adequate alternate housing for those who lost their homes;
  • Uphold all obligations in accordance with international law with respect to the rights of all citizens and residents, including respect, protection and fulfillment of the human right to adequate housing, as the right to live in security, peace and dignity;
  • Engage in a frank dialogue with the affected communities and local authorities (the local sphere of government) in accordance with the principles of human rights, especially CESCR General Comment No. 7 and principles of the right to the city;
  • Take the necessary steps to protect heritage buildings, investigating and remedying damage and destructive procedures undertaken within the international law norms of reparation for such gross violations.

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