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More Kurds forced out of ancient Sur in southeast Turkey

The Turkish authorities are evacuating more neighborhoods in Diyarbakir’s historic district of Sur, leaving hundreds of Kurdish families with uncertain futures.
A police barrier blocks a narrow back alley of Sur, an historical district of southeastern province of Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 10, 2017. Picture taken March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTX31V7X

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — In a narrow street in Diyarbakir’s ancient district of Sur, a young Kurdish boy grips a tiny fish bowl, his eyes moving between it and the commotion around. The single goldfish in the bowl must be his most precious belonging, one that needs to be cautiously taken care of as the family moves from a place it has long known as home. The boy’s mother, Fatma Oner, is bidding farewell to neighbors, reliving another forced uprooting she suffered as a child.

Similar scenes are frequent these days in Sur, a historic quarter inside Diyarbakir’s millennia-old fortress walls, as hundreds of Kurdish families, some of the city’s poorest, evacuate homes that the Turkish authorities have expropriated and slated for demolition. Ankara’s controversial urban transformation plan came atop its ferocious crackdown on urban militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which devastated Sur, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and other residential areas across the mainly Kurdish southeast. The latest exodus follows the inclusion of two more Sur neighborhoods into the scope of the renewal project after the evacuation of six other neighborhoods, which were at the heart of the clashes.

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