Diyarbakır’s central district of Sur has always been an urban area of historical significance with its neighbourhoods reflecting the cultural texture of the city. The district is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
According to a report by the United Nations Human Rights Office, up to half a million residents of the wider Kurdish region were displaced during the operations of the Turkish military in 2015-16. 30 towns and neighbourhoods were affected.
An analysis based on the before-and-after satellite images shows that about 70 percent of the buildings in Sur were razed to the ground in operations during which heavy weapons were used by the Turkish military against civilian districts and historical buildings. The destruction apparently continued even after the operations ended.
According to official reports, about 3,569 buildings, including schools, mosques and old Armenian churches, were destroyed.
The UN Report also documents wide-scale expropriation in Sur neighbourhoods.
In the place of the destroyed buildings, many of them of cultural and religious significance, there now stands new ugly constructions resembling prison blocks, in dire contrast with the historical atmosphere and beauty.
The video footage also reveals that posters of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish republic’s founder Atatürk, and Turkish flags have been placed on many buildings as an apparent gesture of ‘conquest’.
The evacuated and ‘forbidden’ zone, now a ghost town, still carries the signs of war. Bullet marks and shrapnel holes can be seen everywhere.
The future of the district still remains uncertain.