Sur and its memory is being destroyed

Amed Chamber of Architects Branch Secretary said; “Sur is what makes Amed, Amed. The culture was the people living in that area, it was the historic buildings and the narrow streets, and that was the only place that kept the culture alive.”

The occupation-like “urgent expropriation” decree issued for Amed’s Sur district and Şırnak’s Cizre and Silopi districts creates a second grievance for the people in said districts that have been burned and torn down in line with the policies of war from the state and the government. Construction work for new police stations and centers has already begun in these districts and the isolation implemented under the guise of “urgent expropriation” is turning the region into open prisons. New districts were added to those occupied by the state under the guise of “urgent expropriation” recently. Amed’s Bağlar and Şırnak’s Beytüşşebap districts are now included in the decree.

Amed Chamber of Architects Branch Secretary Mücahit Polat spoke on the actions they have launched against AKP’s occupation plan.

Polat says all actions regarding Sur should be carried out in a certain coordination and that they have formed a platform for Sur for future actions. Polat said the platform had started initiatives in Ankara but there weren’t any developments yet.


Polat said there will be some work on June 18-19 for the Sur Workshop with the Chamber of Architects and Amed Metropolitan Municipality and continued: “There is a platform coming from İstanbul, we will conduct this work with them. They will share their experience and we will discuss what has been done here in this process and what can be done to rebuild as opposed to the expropriation. We are now hearing bombs in Sur again. Until last week, there was work in only 3 neighborhoods and approximately 1350 buildings had been assessed for damages. 1350 buildings is 27 streets in total. When you look at the area, it is now just flattened land.”


Polat said there were grave issues regarding the registered buildings and continued: “Some aerial photographs show some buildings were torn down. There may be 60 to 70 registered buildings among them.” Polat said the total number of registered buildings in the banned area was 360 and continued: “The map of Sur shows a square has been formed in the Armenian Catholic Church and work still continues there. Damage assessment still continues in Fatihpaşa neighborhood as well. There is only demolitions in the field and they are not sharing any information with us. Aerial photographs show historic buildings in ruins. We appealed to the governorate regarding this matter and their answer was, ‘The work in the field is still ongoing and the Ministry of Culture had made some arrangements for the registered buildings’ and that our appeal would be reconsidered once the area was safe again in the future.”


Polat explained that the Sur district was included in the UNESCO world historic heritage list but UNESCO’s only adressee was the Ministry of Culture and said, “The Metropolitan Municipality submitted their report on Sur to the Ministry of Culture but the ministry doesn’t turn it over to UNESCO.” Polat stressed that “UNESCO doesn’t impose sanctions. They make a promise to protect this cultural entity and to transfer it to the next generations, but they don’t do anything about it. UNESCO doesn’t really care. They almost say it’s not their business if you can’t protect the cultural entity.”


Polat called for action for Sur and said, “Sur is a city center with a 7000 year long history. Sur is what makes Amed, Amed. The culture is the people, the historic buildings, the narrow streets and it is the only place keeping the culture alive. Everybody should take action so it’s not destroyed. Neither the occupation under the guise of expropriation nor the current demolitions are compatible with the 2012 zoning plan for protection. Sur and its memory are being destroyed. People being forced out now were 80% the same people who were exiled in the ‘90s and now they have faced another exile. It’s impossible to ignore this.”