Displaced Kurds cannot afford to return home in Turkey’s southeast

Residents of the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district cannot afford the new homes erected following fighting between security forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, journalist Diego Cupolo reported on Monday in IRIN, a news website focusing on humanitarian stories.

The fighting, which erupted following the failure of a peace process in July 2015 lasted until March 2016, forced Sur’s largely Kurdish residents to flee the district and resulted in large scale destruction of property. More than 24,000 have still not been able to return to Sur, contributing, said Cupolo, to enmity between local Kurds and Turkey’s central government.

In March this year, in the run up to elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Sur and pledged to renovate the district and create a vibrant local economy as part of a broader plan to revitalise Turkey’s impoverished, mainly Kurdish southeast.

But government opponents believe Erdoğan’s administration plans to profit from the displacement and is engaging in demographic re-engineering.

“The reconstruction is aimed at shaping the society through space, erasing the memory and creating a new memory,” said Nevin Soyukaya, an archaeologist with the SUR Platform, a group of citizens monitoring the reconstruction of Sur. “Therefore, this is an attempt to change not only the physical structure, but also the demographic structure.”

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