Amnesty International today issued an Urgent Action calling on Turkey to halt forced evictions in the Sur District of Diyarbakir.
Hundreds of residents in the Alipaşa and Lalebey neighbourhoods of the Sur district in Diyarbakır province, southeastern Turkey, are at imminent risk of forced eviction. Since 23 May, during the fasting month of Ramadan, water and electricity supplies to residents’ homes were cut off in an apparent attempt to force them out.
Between December 2015 and March 2016, parts of the Sur district were subjected to round the clock curfews in the context of clashes between the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the state security forces. Tens of thousands of residents were displaced and many have still not been able to return. Residents of Alipaşa and Lalebey returned to their homes after being displaced for up to six months. In March 2016, a compulsory purchase order was issued affecting all 16 Sur neighbourhoods as part of a redevelopment project that affects the entire district. Inhabitants began receiving eviction notices in December, demanding that they vacate their homes within
one week, but most residents remained. Lawyers and residents told Amnesty International that they were verbally notified that the demolitions would start in April 2017. At the end of April residents reported loud speaker announcements from mosques demanding them to evacuate their homes within seven days. On 23 May, water and
electricity supplies were cut off and partial demolition of already evacuated homes started.
Residents told Amnesty International that they had not been genuinely consulted about the plans or offered alternative housing or adequate compensation for their losses. All residents reported deep fear and anxiety as to an uncertain future, whilst expressing their wish to remain in their neighbourhoods where they had strong community and family ties, and depend on the area for their livelihoods and children’s education.
The Turkish authorities have a duty to ensure that no one is forcibly evicted from their homes and that any evictions that are carried out are only as a last resort and in full compliance with international human rights law and standards, including the right of return of Internally Displaced People. Arbitrarily cutting off water and electricity
supplies to force people from their homes is also prohibited under international law.
For information on how to participate in this worldwide appeal, see here.