Friday, 12 June 2009
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Demolition of the thousand-year-old Gypsy Roma quarter of Sulukule, hard up against the ancient Byzantine city walls, continues (see prior posts under ‘Istanbul’). The Roma are to be moved to an area outside the city where they would have no opportunity to continue their musical and entertainment traditions and lifestyle. In their place, the city would build middle-class villas.
Now allegations have surfaced that AKP officials involved in razing the neighborhood have bought some of the land and new houses. No one is suprised by this, and there have been some forced resignations. (click here) The losers are the very poor, relatively uneducated Roma, a minority whose culture is undoubtedly offensive to the alcohol-shunning, buttoned-up pious population in surrounding neighborhoods and in the AKP. The AKP used to claim it was the ‘clean’ party. It’s time it took itself to the laundry.
Anti-riot police supervised this final phase last week of the demolition of Sulukule, a neighborhood on the European bank of Istanbul once home to a vibrant community of musicians and artists whose rhythmic songs and belly dancing served as the city's musical heart. Similar scenes have been repeated across the country as municipalities, supported by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), drive home a programme of urban renewal, destroying ramshackle and often unsanitary housing in favour of new tower blocks, often many kilometers (miles) outside localities.
City officials in the Fatih district, run by mayor Mustafa Demir from the AKP, estimate the project will relocate about 3,500 people from Sulukule -- 1,300 of them Roms -- and replace their old housing with fancy, wood-panelled "Ottoman style" buildings. The demolition, begun at the end of 2006, will wipe out "hovels you wouldn't dump coal in," according to the mayor. However local activist Hacer Foggo of a group called the Sulukule Platform estimates that closer to 5,000 people, the bulk of them members of the minority, are being displaced, and all to benefit the ruling party and its allies. "Who is going to buy the houses that they will build here? It will be the profiteers, those close to the AKP," she said. "The idea is to expel the poor from the city centre and put the rich in their place." Turkish media reported a few months ago that several AKP members and figures close to the party were allegedly among the prospective buyers of the new houses. Foggo said the resettlement will break up a community that has survived through centuries thanks to a tradition of solidarity and mutual aid.
ISTANBUL — They lived for almost 1,000 years around the remains of Istanbul's Byzantine walls. But when they were forced to leave, the gypsies of Sulukule only found out about their eviction from the journalists flocking to their shantytowns to cover the story.
"We heard from the media that the neighborhood would be destroyed to make way for luxury residential developments," Mehmet Asim Hallaq, 55, a spokesman for the ongoing campaign opposing the removal, told me in the summer of 2007. "This is a kind of aesthetic assimilation they're trying to impose on us."
It is all part of what locals call the "Dubaification of Istanbul." Kemal Ataturk’s secular Turkish rep
ublic has strived to put water between its Ottoman Empire precursor and the European vision it harbors of itself. With Turkey’s beaches beating Spain to second place as the holiday choice of Britons for the first time last summer, a real estate boom has swept across the country.
As part of an urban regeneration project, Sulukule, the oldest Roma settlement in the world, has been experiencing demolitions.
International and national warnings unheeded
UNESCO, UN Habitat, UN Human Rights Commission, the EU, as well as international and domestic NGOs have called for a reevaluation of the gentrification project, which forces the Roma, who have lived in this area for many centuries, to move 40 km out of the city.
However, 80 percent of the neighbourhood has already been demolished. In order to help the resident children to deal with the trauma and continue their education, a children’s centre was set up eight months ago.
Children's centre also demolished
There, the children have been receiving music, drama and art classes.
The demolition of the children’s centre was staved off recently when children protested. However, two days ago, the bulldozers came again and destroyed the building.
The children’s classes will continue despite the demolition. (EZÖ)
Text extracted from: http://bianet.org/bianet/minorities/112234-sulukule-children-s-centre-demolished
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
We celebrated on Saturday night, as we could not celebrate on Friday due to tiredness. Saturday night party was an incredible party. Everyone was craving for some enjoyment, and almost the entire class came together for the party!!
Sunday was the day where all were supposed to visit the famous tourist destinations, but the work on posters for Monday’s presentation delayed this. After finishing my posters, I went to the amazing Topkapi palace. A must see for all art and architecture students, this palace is strategically located with stunning views of the Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Unimaginable beauty, domes all over the palace decorated by charming tiles and awesome gilding work. We also saw the world’s 5th largest diamond and some excellent small crafts studded with rubies, emerald stones. The next step was the even more wonderful experience of Sufi music concert and the Whirling Dervishes. Being a fan of Sufi music I was enchanted. Even though I heard that the dervishes were just trainees, and this was a fake attempt to lure tourists - I felt it was a complete experience.
Monday 20th May
Due to lack of leadership….. Cassidy had to do the posters work… … she was a bit angry with us… we apologise dear Cassidy… the posters looked amazing!!
The presentation began. Cassidy made it clear to the audience the stand that the university UCL, and DPU took for the project and also, that we have a presentation on Tuesday morning with the mayor. As the students explained their proposals, one by one, I felt the community getting more involved. One of the best audiences I have ever had in my life, and they clapped and cheered at every project. They nodded in agreement, when they felt they needed the project.
the above image is titled - "speaker, translator, listener and the baby"
After I finished my presentation and Ola took over. I went behind to stand and have a look; and that’s when I realized something. Few people got up to shake hands and thanked me for the project. It was at this moment that I felt how important my project was for them. And this was the case with all the projects .When Diego says at the end of his project “and all will be happy”…this is what the struggle is all about…. Making ends meet…. “To create a win-win situation for all” (Burra, 2008)
And this is our work, as development practitioners….
I am amazed that the eight months in DPU I have learnt so much, gained so much knowledge. I would have been empty without it, and I am amazed that last two days have been the best days…. Cos through the process of self discovery through the Sufi concert and Hamam experience…. I have felt the same about my Career… my future life… it links….for me at least… somewhere…
And yes…we took a step ahead….
this was the last day we visited sulukule..... some snapshots.......
Mr Cheng du saying good bye to his favourite wall in chinese....monday ended with all of us preparing for the tuesday's presentation for mayor... and a small party at a local bar.. celebrating Roi's birthday and our last night in istanbul!!! cheers guys!!
Since I have been provided with the opportunity to write anything in this blog: P
I would like to thank all of you… personally...each of you has been a source of inspiration in some form of the other…. In random order… Elsie, Elly, River, Stephanie, Cristina, Roi, Isis, Ola, Hauxuan, Diego, Jonathan, Riccardo…. All your work so far… in London… and in the Istanbul has been wonderful…and it was fun sharing experiences…
Thanks to the tutors Michael, Yves and Cassidy for being there…and making this possible… a practical learning experience….
Saturday, 17 May 2008
First, just to put a little bit more pressure we still needed to present our projects to our tutors, then make the corrections and put everything together again for the presentation at 4:00 pm!!! After some minor delays and computer crashes we manage to collect everything, translate to Turkish and print all of our work!
By the time we got to ITU, the exhaustion just became adrenaline, people just kept coming and in no time the room was not enough for the audience! Many people we met along the road came: Members of the community in Sulukule, even Diego’s friend, the amazing musician Erdogen Dalkiran with his drums, (which he delightfully played for us at some point!), members of the Sulukule platform, the IMP, the Fatih Municipality, the Fener and Balat EU project team, Professor Alper Ünlü and many friends we’ve made in this amazing experience.
The fact that so many people came just made us work harder and give the best of us; the presentation went great despite the fact that we had to condensed a massive amount of work in a rather small presentation! I also have to say…we had never imagine how difficult is to present with a translator! We had to speak very clearly and at the end you don’t even know if you are being translated exactly as it is! (There are some interesting stories about this!!)
However, the more interesting part came later on!! Before we even realize it, we were spectators of a never ending struggle between completely different interests, people with power that are convinced they’re doing the best for the city and people that are fighting their neighborhood, for the right to preserve the kind of life and relations that make up their daily lives, things so random as to talk to your neighbor from the window and just watch the people go by…things that many of us even take for granted.
And when one resident of the community addressed to us and said that even as outsiders, in three weeks we manage to understand Sulukule because we had the will to do it, it made all our effort worth it… (Although he was too kind, we wish we could spend more time and get to know more this amazing community)…
At the end of the day, this is not just a field trip, an exercise or another step to get a degree; this is not about houses, about globalization or even about demolitions… This is about people and their lives!
I think I’m not alone when I say, is a rather strange feeling to work with such real and overwhelming issues, make an analysis, propose, present and then just go back to your life in London while the problem here will sure continue and get even worse…I praise all the people working for the cause with such passion and courage and we sure hope an agreement can be made and most importantly, that everyone involved acknowledges, once again, that this about PEOPLE!
Ok, I will stop now or I will never end, plus I can already hear Diego (A.K.A Cochabamba) saying I speak and write like a Mexican soap opera!!
“Seriously guys” We hope you can get a glimpse of our incredible experience this day… we sure never forget it…
P.S I know my so dear colleagues have more things to say about this day…hope you can contribute! Photos and videos to be posted later!! Un Abrazo!
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
So today was a work day, some headed to Sulukule for another testing round of frustrated efforts in communication and information. But slowly slowly we're edging closer to the end, of the istanbul leg anyway, and things are beginning to make more sense so we know what we're looking for when we go to the field and it takes a little less time. Back at the palace all were balancing work between personal projects (well and truly off the starting line) and group analysis. Analysis has been a tricky one, a real test of what we've been accumulating all year, whereas the projects although a new format seem to be easier for people to get stuck into. Maybe its just because we've done so much group work and we're glad not to have to look at each other any more! Another huge lesson learnt, this business of working in a group, and i'd be the first to admit its a massive lesson involving a hell of a lot of learning how to shut up basically (yes, i know, especially me!). But we're getting there, we're getting things done faster, we've stopped shouting at each other and decisions are made more easily despite, as i said, having pretty much zero to work with.
Somehow - between thirteen people, no turkish, a lot of chai, and not a lot else - we've produced an astonishing amount of work, and I reckon with the wind behind us we'll be ready for the big guns on friday. Today wasn't really an up or a down day, but I think thats a real testament to how well we can all evidently cope with a situation that really, a lot of people couldn't handle, a lot of people chose not to, and a lot of people never experience the kind of challenge we have over the last weeks. Personally, i couldn't do it without everyone else, so thank you, and see you tomorrow for an up day...
Sunday, 11 May 2008
The second part of the meeting with the tutors involved some initial thoughts and ideas about our individual proposals…I don’t want to stress anybody, but realistically we only have 4 days for the formulation of these proposals and that is not good news guys!!
Anyway, other than that the day involved a lot of staying in and thinking and working – and unfortunately eating – so I will probably bore you with all the detail…Looking forward for the tomorrow meeting so as to finally identify our guidelines, surpass this ‘snag’, and move on to the final projects (yieeehhh)!!
Once again, good work my dear BUDDies!
Saturday, 10 May 2008
Friday, 9 May 2008
Beyond the problem of preparation, actually organization is the most conflict issue in our group. After day to day tiresome group meetings and discussions, everyone would agree that it is more efficient and easy to work individual than in group. Ironically, we are leaning participatory which encourages everyone join and shares their ideas. Good participatory is by considering every opinion through negation, communication and understanding processes. In our situation, when every idea came out, the group work became more and more complex. If the outcome only selects some ideas, it would disappoint idea-contributors. Furthermore, limited time makes situation even more difficult. That is why most governments prefer the top-down approaches. According to Michael, “blanking eviction is easy, convenience and wrong”. But it still exists in this world because for government it is efficiency. Additionally, the objective for Sulukule project regarding to our prospective is too broad which needs long term approach. River said “if we have time, we can save this world.” Yes, she reminded us that we need more practical and face the reality according our capacity.
At 11:20, Jonathan, Elsie and Cristina presented our work and after that we received many good suggestions. Basically, we did many data collections but we didn’t show important data numbers and key findings. However, the message in our presentation should be clear in order to impress audiences. Fortunately, Cassidy and Yves helped us organize our “view” of the project to “concrete missions” through “analysis, proposal to action”. That is great help. So in the end, everyone needs to provide individual work for action projective which includes tangible, intangible heritages, resettlements and livelihoods.
After finishing the presentation, we walked back through the lovely coast. I think the beautiful scenery comforted everyone today. We passed through a developed area which is modern, clean and pretty. We all enjoyed it. However, this urban regeneration may be another excuse for small group of people to get huge profits without considering original poor settlement. But we still took pleasure in the result of modern development……
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
We welcome Michael Safier into joining our party and the briefing we gave Michael in the morning not only was to update him on the on- goings of this trip, but for us to reflect upon what we have actually been doing the last week or so. And as always, the feedback and guidance from our professors and Michael are insightful and putting us back on track .....
Our project statement... too vague/ not encompassing enough. (Doh! would help to actually define what we are doing accurately.) It transpires that forming the vision of the project and the mission of how to achieve this vision is not an easy task. We need to unpack the terms to clearly define what we are trying to do in a specific way, but yet consise enough for it to be a strong focused objective. Looking at the verbs used are key, as this determines the action we will do.
A quote from Yves's counterpart: "Stratgic planning is about knowing what you do not want to do- the rest is space for freedom."
It may have been identified that as a group, we WANT to do everything and help and address issues in many possible ways which is why we struggle to develop a focus vision and mission statement for our project.
With our vision in sight, it should help us distill information we do not need in our mapping and research activities, which we have spent the most part of today doing.....
Jon's hands-up to speak rule enforced during an orderly meeting
I would just like to congratulate everyone on their efforts so far and for the phenomenal amount of work we are producing. The long working days may have been draining, but let's remember this is our last few weeks working as students together so we should make the most of the remaining time to pull together all our efforts. We all have a strong common aim to do what we can to help the Sulukule residents and make a positive difference in the development of Istanbul.
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
There are totally 1356 units in Tasoluk right now and still have potential to extent. Most of them are four layer buildings with two kind of flats, small one is 83 m² apartments block and 118 m² apartments block. There are 120 buildings in total including elementary and high school, mosque, commercial center, sports center and library.
However, if people move to the TOKI apartment and cannot afford the rent in 3 months TOKI is sending a warning note and in 4 months people have to start paying their rent. If they still cannot pay, TOKI returns to them all the money that they have already paid, in cash and they have to move out of the apartment. TOKI allows the people to rent or sell the house to another person. However, the apartment here supposed to be the cheapest offer in this location which means even if they sell their house, the money they get still cannot afford a new apartment anywhere else.
The opportunities for employment in the area including textile industries, construction jobs. In addition, the municipality stated that they cannot help each individual person that is in need of a job – if people organize themselves in groups (i.e.10 people together) the municipality could contact/mediate for a job in the factories of the area. However, there will be no chance for their culture industry as the site is far away from city center and more or less pure residential area. It seems there will be no options for them other than struggle to a place in the industries. At same time, within the huge community of 5,000 people, the identity of Roma community will be completely dismissed which has no chance to reclaim anymore.
Thanks Roi for offering the note.
Monday, 5 May 2008
After a quite relaxing Sunday it was back to reality and continue with our research, analysis and start the physical mapping of the area of Sulukule. However considering that we had to meet 2 important actors, which will help us understand better: the development of the city of Istanbul, where it is heading to and what strategic plans are they taking into consideration, there was the need to divide the BUDD group in two sets in order to attend both meetings and also work in the mapping of the area we decided to work in.
In my case I missed the morning meeting with the university and instead I went to Sulukule with my wonderful joyful mapping partner Ellie. The experience of mapping started very technical with us checking demolished houses, use of space, picture’s organization, etc. Local people were generally very friendly and curious with only one exception in which we weren’t welcomed; which might be a reflection of their despair of having a lot of attention from different sectors and actors without positive results. After the technical part we started to see a more social aspect of their lives, which was very difficult taking into consideration the language barriers, therefore it turned into a more informal and interesting activity that involved body language, sketches to show our countries, play football, dance, etc...every mapping group can add different stories they found on the streets of Sulukule.
The afternoon myself and some other BUDDS joined Cassidy to meet the Istanbul Metropolitan Planning IMP office in the city centre. The meeting’s purpose was to understand better the governance of the metropolitan area considering the differences between different local authorities, their approaches towards the economic growth of the city and the good legibility of the different suburban areas. It was very refreshing to see the magnitude of the city and what Istanbul means int the local area, Turkey and the international region. Even if the office works mainly as a consulting office addressing planning and urban design they had an opinion towards what is happening in Sulukule and the Fatih Municipality.
Once back in the apart hotel and with only 15 minutes for a break we found ourselves in what will turn into a marathon meeting involving all BUDD students and tutors firstly to discuss what are we doing which were our findings and what’s next; secondly after dinner we focused (without tutors) into brainstorming our proposals. This stage was directed by Jonathan in a very “Top Down” approach, even if Johnny’s tactics raised some eyebrows by the participants, I think it was very effective way to keep us focussed and stop us from wondering around the same stuff. After a hard night it was time to go straight to bed (no Tuborg).
After a really long day I just might conclude that the things and issues raised in the meetings will be important to our success, and will improve the feasibility of our proposals.
Sunday, 4 May 2008
When we arrived, we found some artists are making graffiti on the destroyed buildings as the symbol to show their attitudes towards the eviction. They claim that there is no one should be defined as monster as the concept given to the Roma people. At the same time, they are worried about with demolishing the houses and relocation, the whole livelihood of Sulukule will also been wiped off.
At the beginning, the Band is playing nice music with some guys dancing, at this stage, it is a well organized show and everyone is amazing at the performance. However, it seems the volunteer has more influence on the events than the local people. They have high technical stereo, light and other facilities which not that match the character of the community. Anyway, under the pressure of eviction, it can be a cherish time for the community to relax and enjoy.
Soon after that it begins to rain. Although at first the rain has not quenched the people's exciting, when it becomes heavier and heavier, it stops the performance and people are leaving gradually. Everyone has the hope that it would keep on going after the rain, so we just use the arch of the city wall and the empty houses for a shelter. It is interesting that no matter how much the building has been damaged, as far as it has the roof, it still can be used as the space for certain activity.