In December 2015, a curfew was declared in the Sur district of Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakır (Amed), as units of the Turkish armed forces and police encircled neighbourhoods in the district during clashes with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
While the neighbourhoods were pounded with heavy weapons for weeks, thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed in the process, resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
In March 2016, after the conclusion of the military operations, thousands of buildings in the district were declared too dangerous to live in and were expropriated.
Mihriban Yıldırım is one of the displaced people of Sur who was offered a derisory 14,000 liras (roughly 1,400 euros) by the government for the expropriation of her house. Speaking to Mesopotamia News Agency, she described what happened after her displacement.
“We’d left the house. A month later, they called us for a damage assessment,” she said. “The house was in ruins. There was nothing left. The household goods were completely damaged. We just left the house without taking anything.”
Twenty days later, she was called by the police, this time over the compensation that she was being offered for her house: “The police called later and told us we could get a compensation payment for our house. ‘Sign and get your money,’ they said. When I asked how much I would get paid, they said it was 14,000 liras. I can’t get a poultry hutch for 14,000 liras. ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t sign,’ I said.”
Pointing out that she had all sorts of goods like a washing machine, refrigerator, TV, and in addition a range of presents she’d received at her wedding, she recalls how she’d found the boxes empty and protested over this: “All the boxes were emptied. Who did it? Must be the village guards, because it was a restricted zone then and no civilian could have entered.”
She protested over the derisory compensation she was being offered for the goods as well: “They offered to give me 1,500 liras for the goods. They said, ‘Take it or leave it.’ The president had said they would cancel the payment if we didn’t take it. So, they tricked the people with 1,500 liras. Just my wedding presents are worth 60,000 liras in current prices. I swear, it’s now worth 60,000. The state pushed us away. If it weren’t for the state, I would have been living in my home now.”