Turkish Gangsters for Urban Renewal


Ercüment Çelik reports from Ankara, where the citizens of self-built neighborhoods are resisting the government's plans to replace their homes with luxury flats:

Of 3,000 houses in these communities, 500 have already been destroyed. The people who accepted the municipality's conditions and left their homes already regret that decision, since they have difficulties paying their debts. The ones who are resisting the push to get them out meet more problems day by day. Instead of listening to their demands, Melih Gökçek, the mayor of the central municipality, cut people's water, sent gangsters to these areas, and attempted to force the residents to sign the agreements. People see strangers in their neighbourhood at night, hear gun shots, and receive telephone threats from unknown people.

In Turkey, anti-eviction protests have taken place very often. But this may be the first time that the poor people in the gecekondu communities are building an organised movement and expressing their demands in a long-run campaign.