Roma residents in İzmir’s Çeşme district have been exposed to major human rights violations after local authorities demolished dozens of tents in which they were living, according to the İzmir Bar Association.
On June 18, members of the association visited an area in which 60 tents housing 300 Roma residents were destroyed by the municipality and prepared a report after speaking with a number of the locals about the conditions in which they were living.
“What we saw is reflective of one of the worst humanitarian plights that has been encountered in our city. The evacuation of the Roma in the area was done in violation of national and universal [human rights] principles,” said the report.
The Aegean region is home to large populations of Roma, though the exact number is unknown as they are not considered an official minority group in Turkey. Many Roma live in relatively segregated neighborhoods in cities while others live in grim conditions in rural areas.
The report said that the Roma’s rights regarding housing and private and family life were violated and that they had been exposed to verbal and physical violence. It stated that no solutions had been presented to the Roma communities by the local administration, indicating that its approach was geared toward forcing the Roma out of the area.
“The babies in the area are forced to live far removed from any type of basic hygienic conditions, their clothing is old and dirty and they are half-naked while their need for food, bottles and diapers is increasing,” the report said.
It noted that after the Çeşme Municipality demolished their homes, children in the area were experiencing hunger and playing with rusty metal parts and pieces of broken glass, constituting a serious health risk.