Assyrian artisans in Turkey face exorbitant rent hikes by state authority
Assyrian artisans in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin saw a triple amount of increase in their rents while other local shops paid a lesser amount, Turkish deputy Tuma Celik said.
Celik, who was formerly a member of HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) asked in a parliamentary question if it was a discriminatory act against the Assyrians by Diyarbakir Regional Directorate of Foundations, an authority which made an additional 70% increase in their shops’ rents.
Assyrians in Turkey are an indigenous Semitic-speaking Christian ethnic group and were once a large minority of Turkey before the Assyrian genocide in1915 when most were murdered or forced to emigrate to join fellow Assyrians in northern Iraq, northeast Syria, and northwest Iran. Most of those who survived the genocide and stayed in Turkey left the country for Western Europe in the 2nd half of the 20th century. Current estimates say there are around 20 thousand Assyrians living in Turkey.
Celik said with the increase, the average workplace rent increased from TL 1,500 to TL 5,000.
“In a city where poverty is so deep, this increase in the rents will deeply affect economic life. On the other hand, the fact that Assyrian shopkeepers have higher rental rates than others is a clear discrimination,” Celik said.