As ‘restoration’ continues in Diyarbakır’s (Amed’s) famous fortress, which is in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the slums around the fortress and Hevsel Gardens are being demolished under the guise of ‘urban transformation’ of the region.
Fiskaya neighbourhood, located in Yenişehir District of Diyarbakır and in sight of Hevsel Gardens, is one of them. The residents of Fiskaya had ‘migrated’ there from villages that were forcibly evacuated, burned and destroyed during the 1990s by the state as a result of the ongoing clashes between the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF).
Thousands of people who were forcibly evacuated migrated to the bigger cities. The residents of Fiskaya largely derive their livelihood from agriculture and animal husbandry. Many earn a living by selling vegetables and fruits that they grow in Hevsel Gardens.
Fiskaya’s residents are worried that if their neighbourhood is demolished, they will not have anywhere to go. The money being provided and offered by the state for their homes is not going to be enough to make a living or to find appropriate housing elsewhere.
Luxury buildings are scheduled to be built in the place of their existing houses, which they will not be able to afford. Jin News spoke to the residents of Fiskaya who fear being relocated and asked them about their views about the urban transformation that is being planned.
Ayşen Malcok, one of the residents of the neighbourhood, states that she will not leave her home unless they will pay her the amount she asks for. “We will not accept demolition unless they give us our rights,” she says.
Malcok runs a shop in the region and also has a house. But the amount offered by the state for both of them is not enough to earn a living. “My shop and my house are worth the same. However, they gave/offered me 140,000 liras for my shop but the money they offered/gave for my house is 270,000 liras. How can I buy a new shop with this amount of money? How will I be able to make my money,” she asked.
Hüsniye Malçok, another resident in the Fiskaya neighbourhood, states that the amount given/offered for her house is significantly below its market value.
“We do not under any circumstances accept the purchase of our homes at such low prices. My house has two floors, two families live here. The amount they offered for my house is 100,000 liras. Not even a room can be built with this money,” she says.
Zübeyde Pamir thinks that the neighbourhood is planned for demolition to assist profiting a few people. “They pay 300,000 liras for my three-storey house. We do not accept this. Either they give us the full value of our house or they do not demolish our house. Our houses are deeded houses.”
Another problem concerning the urban transformation plan is that although the expropriated Dicle and Feritköşk neighbourhoods were declared “risky areas,” they actually fall within the borders of the UNESCO World Heritage List as well.