You have Toledo, Sur is ours! *
…And now these historical lands of thousands years are vitalizing. Fruitfulness story is being written over again. The fortresses that witness the history will go to stand up in front of Tigris with all their majesties. Sur will open its doors with all its stature. This precious city will be again beautiful. Mosques, prayer rooms will go to again salute the visitors. Prayer calls will not cease from Bursa Ulu Mosque’s sibling Diyarbakır’s Ulu Mosque’s minaret. The charity fountains in front of the doors of Diyarbakır houses will go to flow in a rich voice and will going to fulfill the city’s thirst. During hot summer days, the courtyards will be filled with people who want to cool off and to rest. The sounds of ornamental pools in the courtyards will go to be mixed with children’s laughter. Arbors will challenge the Sun, will going to host household under their shadow. Iwans will be cheered again with people’s chats. Seljuk and Ottoman handicrafts will be exhibited in living rooms. Families will find peace again. Those beautiful divans and carpets will continue to impress. Every courtyard will be transformed into a family story. Each of the historical stairs will go to inspire the future. All the courtyards’ rooms will go to breath. The Famous Four Feet Minaret will going to continue to remind our unity and solidarity to everybody…”
These words are from the animation film prepared for Sur by the Prime Ministry. There are plenty of sounds of prayer calls, constructions assimilating bibelots and of course a big Turkish flag waving on top of fortresses. This extremely terribly prepared video is pretty away from the 7000 years Sur’s spirit.
During his visit to Diyarbakır, under the protection, amongst thousands of soldier and police, under surveillance of snipers standing just behind him, President Davutoğlu calls out to a handful of Kurds in Hasanpaşa Han, which was closed to Kurds since months and is open only for few weeks:
“We are hearty Diyarbekirians. Some people want to pull on our hearts. Some people, as if they want to, crash our Suriçi (walled city), which likes to show one country means one heart to Sema (sky/heaven).”
“Proprietary rights will be obeyed. Architectural touch will definitely be preserved. The ones, who have a property here, will go to have the right to do whatever is convenient to make with the available opportunities. We are making regulations in order for the ones who are tenanted to be householders.
They say “These people ‘are going to dehumanize here’”. No. On the contrary, we are going to bring Sur and saint Diyarbekirians together. We are going to turn Sur into a beautiful place, where people walk around peacefully, salute each other, seethe with each other forever.”
“We came to plant love seeds on these lands. Let me tell you also one of my goal. I also told to my wife, Ms. Sare that I want to own a house in Sur.”
I do not even want to mention this speech, which has no palpability. But it is obvious that President does not know Sur. Sur was already world’s most beautiful place, where people would salute and seethe with each other. It was not a dull bibelot, not an artificial Toledo as shown in the animation, but was a place tens of cultures lived together on its küçes (streets). If you already have forgotten, let us remind you President, it was the state who destroyed and burned this hundreds years place!
It is true that ditches were dig on these streets. However, although there are many other ways to deal with ditches, you chose to bomb 7000 years old city with tanks and cannonballs under the name of “public order”. With or without ditch, you burned hundreds of places.
And now, as if this was not enough, under the roof of “expropriation”, secretively, you try to appropriate our houses and streets! On one side you issue a decision on the “expropriation”, on the other hand, since there is a raise of reactions, you say “proprietary rights will be obeyed”! Are we going to believe the decision of the Council of Ministers or your words?
By the way President, if you do not know I tell you:
When you were giving your speech in Hasanpaşa, screams of mothers were risen to the sky, who came to take their children’s funerals to Tigris-Euphrates Culture Center (Dicle-Fırat Kültür Merkezi), which is only one hundred meter away!
While you were conducting your Friday prayer, Kurdish mothers cannot even pray for their own children’s funeral!
While you were giving your speech dear Mr. President, darling Suriçi continued to be destroyed and its ruins were thrown to near Tigris.
When you, President, were making this speech, Kurdish mothers were giving blood in order to try to recognize their children from mortal remains spread in number of places of the region.
We don’t have a city on sale!
Mr. President, since you came all the way here, why did not you bother to walk around the streets of Diyarbakır in order to see the realities? If you were walking around the streets of Diyarbakır, you could see these billboards on all roads and streets:
“Do not interfere in the history, belief and life and SUR!
Compensate the tradesmen and the public for their loss quickly”
Since you came all over the way to Diyarbakır, we would like to hear a couple of words on peace, Mr. President! At least, we would expect to hear a tiny apologize for my burned and destroyed city with a history of 7000 years. We would like to see a single hope for the future!
For this country, the war was not the only choice. You, President, turned down all the other choices except war! You chose war! You chose death instead of life! You chose destruction!
What are you going to do? Are you going to build your own house on top of this ruin, the ruins of houses demolished in Sur? President, do you think the one who demolishes a house can own a house!
I am telling you Dear Mr. President!
This state burned and destroyed our city, but cannot take it away from us! Nobody can eradicate us from our own city! Despite all cruelty done by governances of all time, we did not and we are not going to leave Amed, Amida, Diyarbakır, Dikranagerd. Sur is the heart of Amed. To leave Sur means to leave Amed. It means to leave our history, identity, Armenians, Assyrians, Keldani, neighbours, memories and our true life experiences!
We do not have a city on sale President!
You are welcome to get a house in Toledo, you can have Toledo, Sur is ours!
*The title makes a reference to PM Davutoğlu’s comparison of historic Sur district of Diyarbakır province with the Spanish city of Toledo
*Translated by Serra Özhan Yüksel, English version published in http://centuryofdisaster.blogspot.com.tr/
*Original Turkish article published in T24 on 04.04.2016