The construction of “luxurious villas” built in place of historical houses which were forcibly expropriated by the government through urgent orders in the district of Sur in Turkey's southeastern province of Diyarbakır has been completed.
The villas have been put on sale for prices ranging between 600,000 liras ($81,000) and 1 million liras ($136,000) on various real-estate websites.
In late 2015 and early 2016, Sur saw intense fighting between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish military, which displaced several families. When the fighting came to an end, bulldozers went in and flattened what was left over for urbanization projects.
The government in 2016 enacted a law expropriating six neighborhoods of Sur and bought residents' historical houses for prices ranging between 50,000 liras and 100,000 liras, quite below the market rate.
Another option offered to families was that they would be settled in apartment flats built by the Housing Development of Turkey (TOKİ) on the outskirts of Diyarbakır.
The government's policy led to the displacement of the poor from Sur.
Real-estate websites promoted the newly built expensive villa-type houses through the phrases of “history and luxury intertwined to each other” and “Diyarbakır's new face.” They also shared photographs displaying the villas' internal and external facades.
Diyarbakır architects and NGOs had at the beginning of 2020 released a report listing how the newly built structures were not in harmony with the original fabric of the area and how they were harming the historic character of the quarter. The villas were described to resemble “prisons.”
The Diyarbakır provincial head of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), Cihan Ülsen, also slammed the government for seeking to make a profit by selling these villa-type houses through exportation policy.
“These people [former residents of Sur] have left their lives, memories, beloved ones, nights and days there. Their broken houses could have been worth 30,000 liras but the lives they had established there were priceless,” he wrote on Twitter, sharing a real estate advertisement for one of the villas.
Bu insanlar oraya hayatlarını, anılarını, sevdiklerini, gecesini, gündüzünü bıraktı. Kırık dökük evleri 30 bin tl olabilir, ama orada kurdukları hayatları paha biçilmezdi.— Cihan Ülsen (@CihanUlsen) January 28, 2021
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