A decision by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led metropolitan municipality to omit the Paşalı (Berdik) village from a drinking water network project in the Şenkaya district of the eastern province of Erzurum (Erzirom) has sparked allegations of discrimination among the local Kurdish population.
Despite a 2018 initiative by the Metropolitan Municipality to extend water services to seven villages, including Paşalı, the latter remains the only one without access.
While surrounding villages were connected, Paşalı’s 2,000 residents claimed their exclusion was due to their Kurdish heritage. Villagers, who rely on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods, expressed frustration at the lack of municipal services, particularly access to drinking water.
“Every neighbouring village has been provided with a network, yet we are left out,” stated Suat Kurt, a local resident, attributing the omission to ethnic bias.
The lack of water access has severely impacted the villagers’ ability to farm and raise livestock, leading many to resort to carrying water from distant sources.
“We’ve been carrying water in buckets because our village was overlooked in the water supply project,” Kurt added, highlighting the difficulties faced by the community, including health issues due to poor water quality.
Another villager, Musa Uğurlu, stressed the challenges of sustaining livestock without a proper water supply and noted the stark contrast with nearby villages who enjoyed full network coverage. “It feels like a targeted neglect towards our village,” Uğurlu said, emphasising the absence of any official response to their appeals for water provision.
Halil Demir pointed out environmental damage caused during the failed attempts to install water infrastructure, including the felling of numerous trees on his property. “They promised water supply but left us with just two fountains and no further action,” Demir stated, calling for immediate attention from the authorities.
Tahsin Demir, a long-time resident, remarked on the historical neglect of the village, stressing that the lack of water supply exacerbates their hardships. “Our village has been deprived of basic services for decades, solely because we are Kurds,” he claimed, highlighting a broader issue of racial discrimination.
The Erzurum Metropolitan Municipality Water and Sewerage Administration has yet to respond to the villagers’ complaints, leaving Paşalı’s residents in a state of continued hardship.