The Lice district of Diyarbakir (Amed), one of the oldest settlements in the region with its deep-rooted historical heritage, has today become a region where people may not even travel through on the grounds that it has been declared a “security area”. For this reason the condition today of the various cultural and historical ruins and areas there is unknown.
The ruins of the ancient city of Dakyanus in the Plain of Fis (Dêştâ Fîsê) region is one of these. This ancient city was declared a “1st Degree Archaeological Site” in 2003, but the area where it is located became a “Temporary Military Security Zone” on 1 September 2015.
Then, on 17 December of the same year, the Diyarbakir Provincial Gendarme Command requested permission to build a base area and a 435-metre-long surrounding wall on the ancient city of Dakyanus. And the Diyarbakir Council for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets approved this decision. In 2016 construction of a gendarme station was started at the site.
The Diyarbakir branch of the Chamber of Architects took a case against the decision of the board to the Administrative Court, but the case was dismissed on the grounds that they were “not parties to the case”.
Later, the Council of State annulled the decision of the Conservation Board “because it is not known whether this military base area is temporary or not or how long it will take to be built, and because no assessment has even been made of the impact of the buildings on the archaeological site.”
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, now the defendant, appealed the decision.
Because the ancient city is still within the boundaries of the gendarme station, the extent of the destruction to it today is unknown, but experts say that the project should be abandoned immediately. MA spoke to the lawyer acting in the case, Devrim Barış Baran.
“The outpost was built with the permission of the Diyarbakir Regional Council for the Protection of Cultural Assets,” said Baran.
“This is against the law, we said that there’s no going back from the destruction wrought here.”
Baran says they are now awaiting the decision of the Council of State.
“We’ll wait for the Council of State’s decision, but there are certain circumstances here. Administrative courts decisions must be completed within 30 days. In other words, the current decisions there have to be reversed by the administration. Since the structure being built is in a military area, we do not know about its affects on the ancient city. We cannot see what has been done there, what has been destroyed. But they need to be taken back immediately. Otherwise, they’re committing a crime because they’re interfering with a historical and cultural area without of permission.”
Sema Aslan, co-chair of the Diyarbakir Branch of the Chamber of Architects, referred to the Council of State decision and pointed out that the process of justice is slow in Turkey:
“This is because the way justice works is slow. We got a decision to stop the implementation of this at the beginning.” she said.
Meanwhile, archaeologist Ahmet Kınay stressed that it is illegal even to bang a nail into areas declared as 1st Degree Sites, pointing out that it is an imprisonable offence.
He explained that many historical sites declared as 1st Degree Sites in the region had been destroyed,
“Think of hydroelectric power plants and dam projects. Batman is a good example. The historical town of Hasankeyf [in Batman] is now flooded. There were thousands of historical sites along the route of the road where Hasankeyf was located. They were all flooded.”
This is cultural genocide, he said. “It means ‘erasing memory’ and ‘severing people’s ties from the land where they live.’ ”
“In Turkey, the state is hostile to differences in religion, language or history. If the Kurds spoke their own language, they would also reveal that they belonged to a different identity. They do not want anything of Rome, Kurds or Arabs emerging from the excavation sites here, they want to believe there have only ever been Turks in this region.”