The deconstruction of Diyarbakır’s old centre

This latest report from UK think tank the Foreign Policy Centre looks at Turkish operations against the PKK and PKK-affiliated organisations.

This briefing highlights the consequences of the Turkish security forces’ operations against the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) and PKK-affiliated organisations in the mostly urban centres of South East Turkey after the collapse of the peace process in 2015. The ensuing brutal conflict caused the killing of hundreds of civilians, displacement of more than 350,000 people, and the destruction of old urban centres. In particular, this briefing focuses on the implications of these security operations on Sur, an ancient district in the city of Diyarbakır. Sur’s history goes back millennia, with traces of dozens of civilisations, including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Persian, Arab, Armenian and Turkish. More than 1,500 buildings have been labelled historic and are protected by law. In June 2015, UNESCO enlisted the 12-meter-high stone fortifications that encircle Sur, built around 350AD, as a World Heritage Site. However, this briefing argues that UNESCO has been largely silent about the ensuing destruction in Sur, and needs to step up its involvement in the reconstruction and further development of the district so that cultural heritage concerns are given the proper consideration needed. The briefing puts forward further recommendations on how authorities can move forward with the rebuild of the district, whilst taking into account local needs and factors that drove the conflict.

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