Home » НОВОСТИ » ЖИЛЬЦЫ ЕВРОПЫ » Children of Sulukule Halt Demolition!

Mostra/Nascondi il menu

Children of Sulukule Halt Demolition!

The demolition team coming from the Fatih Municipality in Istanbul to the much controversial regeneration area, Sulukule, faced the children of the neighbourhood when the bulldozer approached the Children’s Workshop which has been functioning since March 2006  to provide the kids with extracurricular education including painting, music and support for formal education. Ten to fifteen kids whose ages vary between 4 to 10 occupied the house above the workshop, which used to be a local coffee-shop before the demolitions occurred, and protested the municipal forces by playing their darbukas, singing along and cheering slogans unanimously.

What attracted the most attention was that the children took their own decision since none of the volunteers who regularly work at the workshop could have been present at the time when the municipal forces arrived in the neighbourhood. Demolition of the workshop has been a matter of dispute since the past month’s time between the Sulukule Roma Culture  Development and Solidarity Association and the municipality. It is demanded by the association and the civil volunteers working in the area that the workshop should not be targeted before the entire demolishment of the area is completed since it is the only place where the children can escape the trauma of evictions and demolishment, and find moral and social support. Municipal officers had visited the workshop area previously and urged the civil volunteers about a possible demolition. Due to the opposition coming from the volunteers, the mayor demanded a written petition to be processed officially. The petition was submitted to the municipality with the signatures of civil volunteers provided and a promise was made by the mayor and project coordinators that the workshop would not be targeted until the very end.  

In yesterday’s events, president of the Sulukule Roma Culture  Development and Solidarity Association, Sukur Punduk arrived at the location to settle an agreement with the municipal forces. After the discussions the municipal forces decided that demolition cannot be put into effect since the children had occupied the building. Children kept chanting and playing their instruments as the bulldozer left the area. Among the slogans chanted were, ‘here is Sulukule and their shall be no demolition here’, ‘Sulukule is ours and will stay as ours’, ‘all the people of Sulukule, put your fists up!’ and the verses of the famous song ‘my darling Sulukule’ 

Sulukule has been facing a series of demolitions since 2007 due to a regeneration project developed by the Fatih Municipality of Istanbul and the Mass Housing Administration of Turkey. The project envisages the eradication of the historical Roma settlement and the creation of a new area defined by Ottoman style villas, hotels and other recreational establishments. The civil fight against the plans of the municipality has been going on since 2006, however more than 150 buildings out of more than 500 have been demolished to date. This equates to the forced displacement of approximately 5000 residents. 

Ozlem Unsal

Department of Sociology

City University, London