Monday, January 14, 2008

Urgent support for Roma expulsed from Sulukule

Your support urgently needed against exclusion of Roma from historic Sulukule!

One of the oldest Romani communities in the World, the Sulukule Romani population is being forced to leave their historical neighborhood.

The Sulukule neighborhood, situated in the Historic Peninsula of Istanbul is being depopulated through a gentrification project implemented by the Metropolitan and Fatih municipalities of Istanbul. As it stands, the project, promoted as an "urban renewal" is in its last phase. In February 2008 the demolishing of the houses will be started.

Despite the efforts of the local people, of the Sulukule Association for the Enrichment of Roma Culture and for Solidarity, of the academicians from several universities, and of the NGO’s, the project is developed by local authority under non-transparent conditions, without consulting the community and without considering their demands, needs and feedback.

The alleged "urban renewal project" is a reconstruction plan which involves the complete demolition of the current neighbourhood, home to more than 3000 Roma, and its replacement with housing which is unaffordable for most of the original inhabitants. The Roma will be forcibly moved from their 1000 year-old historical neighborhood to an area 40km outside the city. Moreover, as the municipality wants them to pay for the public housing they will receive, this forcible move is accompanied by a debt obligation that they will not be able to meet.

Because it will evict the Roma of their home, annihilate and assimilate the Roma culture in Istanbul, the project needs to be stopped. Your support is crucial to carry out this feat.

The 1000 year-old home of the Roma
The Roma first came to Istanbul from India in the 11th century when the city was still the capital of the Byzantine Empire. And they spread around the World from here. Following the conquest of the city by the Ottomans in 1453 and with the permıssıon of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, they were settled near the city walls in the Sulukule as well as in the nearby Ayvansaray neighborhoods. For hundreds of years, Sulukule acted as a pilgrimage location for Roma from all over the world. It is one of the most important cultural centers of Roma music and dance as it continues to be a crucial worldwide resource for training musicians and dancers.

Your support is needed for the cessation of the "urban renewal project"


The Sulukule urban renewal project is a non-transparent non-participatory project.

It is against the clauses of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It is implemented in the buffer zone of the ancient land walls of Istanbul, which are on the World Heritage list. As such, it fails to abide by the principles of the Vienna Memorandum and the Convention regarding the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

To help prevent the forced exile of the Sulukule Roma,
To protect the historical and cultural values of Istanbul, which are on the World Heritage List,

Please express your objection to this project by writing to the following officials,

Abdullah Gül
President of Turkey
Mail Address:
T.C. Cumhurbaskanligi
e-mail: cumhurbaskanliğ

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
The Prime Minister of Turkey
Mail Address:

Ertuğrul Günay
Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey

Mail Address:
T.C. Kultur ve Turizm Bakanligi
Ataturk Bulvari No. 29
06050 Opera

Kadir Topbaş
Mayor of Istanbul
Mail Address:
Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediye Baskanligi

Mustafa Demir
Mayor of the Fatih district of Istanbul

Mail Address:
Büyük Karaman Cad.
No. 53

Contact Persons:
Hacer Foggo (
Derya Nüket Özer (
Viki Ciprut Izrail ( )

Blog (only in Turkish):

No comments: