History destroyed in Sur: Concrete houses are sold for 1 million TL

History destroyed in Sur: Concrete houses are sold for 1 million TL


Six neighbourhoods of the borough of Sur in Diyarbakır (Amed) have been banned for 5 years. Six neighbourhoods surrounded by concrete blocks first and then by 3 meters long iron sheets have been banned for 1,826 days.

Nobody can enter them. Sur, unique in the world when it comes to the ban which makes it a candidate for the Guinness Book, but also a “shame” for Turkey and the world. Sur, which is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list, has been abandoned for years, destroyed, hit…
The rulers and the powers remained silent as Sur repeated its cry. As its historical texture was destroyed, traces of humanity were also wanted to be erased. Thousands of years of history have been destroyed for the sake of housing speculation. Those who saw pretended they didn’t see, those who listened ignored the cry.

If you destroy history, you destroy everything
With the decision of the Council of Ministers, 6 neighbourhoods in Sur were declared “risky areas” and 70 percent of them were demolished. The people who have been living in this borough for years saw their houses taken away from them and replaced by concrete structures. Thousands of families had to leave their homes, their history, their neighbours and the borough. Almost all of Sur’s 22,323 population was forcibly displaced after the bans were declared. Sur was abandoned and even the pigeons that have been part of its history for thousands of years had to migrate. Pigeons could not fly freely. Every neighbourhood, every stone, every house was forbidden. If you destroy history, you destroy everything.
Houses are sold for 1 million TL
Even if it was a shanty town, the houses of the people living in the historical borough of Sur were bought for 50-100 thousand TL, much less than their real value. Concrete houses replacing those forcibly taken away, were put up for sale at prices ranging from 600 thousand to 1 million TL. Sur people will never be able to buy these houses at such prices…. Only the rich can afford these monster houses.
I worked in Sur!
I worked in the region for months as a journalist during the conflict in Sur. I witnessed what happened personally, I told what happened in the region with the news I wrote. I was also there as a journalist the day when Tahir Elçi, the former President of Diyarbakır Bar Association, was shot at the Four-Legged Minaret. The experiences are so painful, so difficult that even when describing, words get stuck in one’s throat and the chest aches. But unfortunately, they destroyed Sur without mercy.
Death in Sur
According to official figures, in the clashes in Cevatpaşa, Fatihpaşa, Dabanoğlu, Hasırlı, Cemal Yılmaz and Savaş neighbourhoods during the 103-day curfew period, a total of 71 people, including 53 soldiers, 17 policemen and 1 village guard, lost their lives. At least 523 people were injured, including 392 soldiers, 128 police officers and 3 village guards. During the same time, the remains of 73 people, including YPS and YPS-JÎN members, were found. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) said in its report that 24 civilians also died.
Historical buildings were destroyed
Not only deaths and migrations, but hundreds of structures were either destroyed or damaged by heavy weapons, tanks and artillery. Many registered historical buildings, including Kurşunlu Mosque, Hacı Hamit Mosque, Pasha Bath, Mehmet Uzun House, Armenian Catholic Church, the Four-Legged Minaret, Saint Mary Church and the Dengbej House, were heavily damaged. A total of 976 buildings were destroyed, 42 of which were listed as “traditional buildings worth protecting”.
They were going to turn Sur into Toledo, but…
What has been done in the narrow küçeleri (streets) and historical buildings of the destroyed Amed? The buildings that went up in 6 neighbourhoods look like a prison. Reinforced concrete structures, which are not related to urban architecture, also pollute the fabric of the city.
Speaking of the city, let’s go to Spain and to the city of Toledo. Toledo is a warm and friendly city with many similarities to Amed. A city surrounded by walls, just like Amed. What is known when referring to its history is that its impenetrable castle is still alive today. Why Toledo? We need to go to the days when Sur was destroyed and refresh our memories. The Prime Minister of the time, Ahmet Davutoğlu, was comparing Toledo to Sur. He said: “I will know if stones are set on stone’. We will build Sur in such a way that it will be a place everyone wants to see with its architectural texture, like the city of Toledo in Spain.” He said that, but neither Sur remained as Sur, nor it became as Toledo. Who will pay for this shame? Who will be taken into account, who…!
We wanted our house, not money, but they didn’t get them
For days, announcements have been made for the sale of villa-style houses which are in fact the prison-like houses. These houses are put on sale at a price between 600 thousand and 1 million Turkish liras, saying “History and Luxury together” on real estate websites. Families whose homes were taken away by force and their dreams destroyed along with their homes, react to what happened, saying “We did not want money, we wanted our house but we did not get them back.”
Generally, in the neighbourhoods where the poor live, people are unable to buy houses sold at these prices, even if they work for a thousand years. It is impossible for people who work for 2 thousand to 3 thousand TL per month to buy houses sold at such high prices. The families did not want to leave their houses; they did not want to sell their houses. When the families did not sell their homes, their electricity and water were cut off. The families who lived without electricity and water for months were later forcibly evicted from the neighbourhood. Many families who did not want to sell their house went to court. The trials are still ongoing, but even if they ended today they will bring nothing… A family who did not leave their house but was forcibly evicted said: “We did not want to sell our house, we did not want to leave Sur, its history. We resisted, but they forced us out. Now, they sell the houses they built on our home, on our memories, for 2 million TL. Where could we find all this money?”
Transformation is difficult!
Chamber of Architects Diyarbakır Branch co-chair, Selma Aslan said: “The new houses they built have nothing to do with the old buildings demolished in Sur. Rent and safety oriented structures were built. It is not possible for Sur to regain its former glory. The new structures must be demolished in order to create old structures. This is a very sad event. Unfortunately, I don’t think such a transformation can happen.”
Nothing but concrete
Remziye Tosun, who lived in Sur during the curfew period and was elected as a HDP deputy for Diyarbakır after staying in prison for some months, said the following about Sur: “The social relations that existed in the region were destroyed with the newly built buildings in Sur district. These structures could have been restored easily, but this was not done. What the authorities told us was, ‘We will reveal the historical texture of Sur,’ Where is it, I ask? Everyone can see by himself if there is anything other than concrete. Do you see anything other than concrete?”

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