GÖÇ-DER releases report on Sur destroyed by the state

GÖÇ-DER report emphasizes that the state is seeking profit after the destruction and that the people have not left their living areas despite everything, and don’t expect anything from the state.

Association for Solidarity With Migrants (GÖÇ-DER) Amed Branch has prepared a report on the Sur district where the curfew continues. The report also includes interviews with local residents.

The report emphasizes that during the curfew which was declared on December 11, 2015 in 6 neighborhoods in the district and is still in effect in most of the area, the district with such deep history in every street was pillaged by the soldiers, police and village guards.


The report includes the following:

“We have observed that some houses were torn down and pillaged even in areas with no clashes. We have received information that the families returning to curfew neighborhoods to the parts without the tear down are experiencing issues with power, water and infrastructure and that works on the repairs will start only after the tear down is completed. We have also been told that works on the powerline and the municipality’s infrastructure and water works have been hindered by security forces.


We have received information that the damage assessment process is provided under the supervision of the governorate and district governorate. We have been told that the governorate and district governorate has offered families compensation of around 5 thousand liras during the damage assessment, but they have refused because the damages amount to at least 15 thousand. Following the damage assessment process, an application bureau was opened in the governorate and district governorate and families applied there. The families were shown new residential areas, which were priced at higher than market value, and are forced to be in debt to the state.

Most of the damage in the neighborhood occurred when village guards from Çınar district stole the valuable goods from homes. This information is present in police records. The neighborhood is entirely closed off, therefore no families have managed to return.


Gafur Türkay from the Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation said Sur had been inhabited uninterrupted for around 7 millenia and that there were 3 active Armenian churches in the district, but they were severely damaged as they were used as bases during the clashes. Türkay stated that the Expropriation Act from years ago had allowed the state to confiscate churches and all material possessions, and that this time a thousand years of history was destroyed by the clashes in Sur. Türkay said 12 shops of theirs were demolished and the church had remained closed for four months and was completely damaged. Türkay said he was born in Diyarbakır and he was a shopkeeper for a long time there. Türkay said they lived together for centuries and they didn’t have any problems. Türkay lastly said he didn’t want anybody to die and that he wished for peace to develop in the region.”


The report also includes the following observations:

“Citizens living in neighborhoods and streets where the curfew is lifted have started returning home. With the lifting of the ban, approximately 100 families have returned. It has been noted that the 500 year old Kurşunlu Mosque, Four Pillared Minaret, Hasırlı Mosque, Pasha Hamam, Hasırlı People’s Assembly, Yoghurt Bazaar, 1700 year old St. Mary Church and Protestant churches, Hacı Hamit Mosque and House of Dengbej are damaged beyond use. It was declared that the curfew was lifted in some neighborhoods and streets, but a de facto curfew continues in these neighborhoods.

Business has been seen to be slowed down almost to a halt in the historic Yanık Bazaar that is the heart of shopping in the district and in shops on Gazi Avenue. People living in neighborhoods still under curfew in the district can’t access their possessions, and the state hasn’t informed the residents as to what is going to be done about this matter in these neighborhoods. But the residents note that construction equipment continue their demolition work in these neighborhoods around the clock.


The citizens in the district don’t think the state’s reasons for the operations, which was cited as the ditches and the barricades, are realistic or acceptable. They are of the conviction that the state is employing a systemic policy to change the demographic makeup of the Kurdish regions.


The residents have stated their resolve in not leaving their living spaces and their cities despite everything that happened, and that they want the state to lift the curfew as soon as possible to allow them access to their properties and that they want to live there, even if they have to put up tents on the ruins of their homes.

The district residents are expecting a swift investigation on the rights violations during the military operations, particularly that of right to life, and the security personnel who committed the violations to be revealed via investigations.


The currently migrated residents of the of the district have stated that they have no material demands from the state, and that they only want to return to their home from where they were forced to migrate, as they had memories in and sentimental ties to their own living spaces that no material compensation can match. The residents said their life in Sur was one of social solidarity and a commune, therefore that they don’t want to lose that and wanted a return to it as soon as possible.

In the inquiries, investigations and assessments conducted, it was determined that approximately 34 thousand people had to forcibly migrate from the Sur district due to clashes and were struggling in different neighborhoods and districts as the conditions for their return haven’t been met yet.


Our investigations, inquiries and assessments have revealed that the state hasn’t taken the will of the Sur residents into consideration with the zoning policy in Sur district and that their opinions and demands weren’t valued. All options the state has presented Sur residents are seen to create debt for the residents.”


GÖÇ-DER has included the call of the report committee:

“Considering that it is both a duty arising from international law and a humane one that the bodies believed to be on the streets and neighborhoods under curfew should be removed from their positions as soon as possible, they should be matched with DNA samples from families and chief prosecutors should go through autopsy procedures in line with the UN Minnesota Autopsy Protocol Regarding Extrajudicial Executions, transparent, effective and nominal investigations are expected. In this context, there is an expectation to urgently investigate violations of the rights protected by national and international legislation, primarily the right to life, and a swift revelation of the perpetrators.

They are calling for awareness from all democratic society so all legal and de facto obstacles that prevent Sur residents from returning home can be removed and social rehabilitation through material and sentimental support can be achieved.

We are calling on the government to put an immediate stop to security policies that are far from developing solutions in the Kurdish issue and on all parties to return to the process of dialogue and negotiations.”