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Kurds forced to leave historic Turkey’s Sur district hit by violence
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Source: Ekurd Daily

DIYARBAKIR-AMED, Turkey’s Kurdish region,— Residents of Turkey’s historic Sur district in the Kurdish province of Diyarbakir were forced to evacuate their homes by Monday as the violence-wracked region undergoes restoration.

The district in southeastern province has been hit by clashes between the Turkish army and outlawed Kurdish militants for over two years.

Turkish authorities say they will restore the district, a UNESCO world heritage site with its ancient fortified walls, historic mosques, churches and synagogues.

Clashes between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters and the Turkish armed forces erupted after the collapse of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire in 2015.

Two more neighbourhoods in Sur were being emptied on Monday but families told AFP they did not want to leave the homes they have lived in for many years.

Those who own their own homes have been given money but finding property elsewhere is difficult, and for those who are not homeowners, the situation is worse.

Sahin Darkan, who had lived in Sur for 11 years, told AFP that he did not have to pay rent while he lived in the district.

"Now we need to evacuate. We will have to pay a rent. They (authorities) placed pressure on us to leave. I don’t know what will happen to us,” Darkan, who works odd jobs, said.

"Actually we do not want to leave but we must leave,” Baris Umut, a member of one of Sur’s oldest families, said.

"Where should we go, leaving this beautiful place, this paradise?”

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said last September 1.9 billion lira ($535.5 million, 491 million euros) would be invested in the district with billions more poured into the southeast region for development after the violence.

But others including Zeliha Ceylan said they could not leave without getting enough money to buy a house elsewhere.

"They gave me a small amount. I have nobody. I cannot buy a house or pay rent. The state is telling me to move, but where will I go?”

Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing Kurdish civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.

Activists have accused the Turkish security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

Observers saidthe crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority.Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

In March 2017, the Turkish security forces accused by UN of committing serious abuses during operations against Kurdish militants in the nation’s southeast.

In April 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government to end unfair trials and the crackdown on Kurdish political opposition.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds,to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.Nearly 40,000 people have been killed in the resulting conflict since then.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974, and has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

* Original Source.

• Housing and Land Rights Violations   

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