Diyarbakir: Platform set up to protect historic and cultural assets
A group of NGOs in Turkey's largest Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir set up a platform to preserve the cultural and historic assets of the city, which is situated in an area that has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC.
The platform was joined by 81 NGOs including Diyarbakir Chamber of Trade and Industry (DTSO), Southeastern Journalists Association, Dicle-Firat Journalists Association, Human Rights Association (IHD), Diyarbakir Bar Association, Diyarbakir branches of Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), Union of Education and Science Workers, and Turkish Medical Association (TTB).
Speaking at a meeting of the platform, Diyarbakir Bar Association chair Nahit Eren said:
"This city has lacked a community ownership in recent years. The city and its historic and cultural heritage have suffered great harm. Let me declare that we now take steps in responsibility to protect all assets of this city and to hand them over to future generations."
Siyar Bozhan, the chair of Diyarbakir Chamber of Certified Public Accountants, told Voice of America Turkish:
"The platform has been established on a common sense. NGOs, professional associations, democratic organizations see what is missing. We have felt it a lot recently. We have come together, talked over it. Our objective is to use the city's wisdom in the interests of the people. There are organizations involved, which respond to social needs. There are artifacts concerned, which mark the traces of human history. Recently some people, who we may refer to as trustee, or by other names, have brought us to such a point in Diyarbakir that we feel ignored."
Rojda Yilmaz, the chair of the Association of Business Women, said:
"A municipal administration should normally be establishing a city council, but this has not happened in the last seven years."
Diyarbakir is without an elected mayor and local council for the most part of the last eight and a half years.
The city's former mayor Gultan Kisanak was removed from her post in 2016 by the Interior Ministry who appointed a trustee in her place. She has been imprisoned over "terror" charges since 29 October 2016.
Kisanak's successor Selcuk Mizrakli was elected as mayor in March 2019, only to be removed from his post by the ministry five months later. He is incarcerated over "terror" charges and has been denied release despite the ruling against him having been recently overturned.