MINELRES: ERRC: Roma Community Legally Challenges the Urban Renovation Project in Sulukule

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Jan 30 19:56:03 2008

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

Roma Community Legally Challenges the Urban Renovation Project in

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and its partners in Turkey, the
Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly (hCa) and Edirne Association for Research of
Romani Culture and Solidarity (EDROM) have initiated a court case aiming
to cancel the urban renovation project targeting Sulukule, a historical
district in Istanbul that is also one of the oldest Romani settlements
in Europe. The complaint was filed on 31 December 2007 at the Istanbul
Administrative Court by Sulukule’s own residents, represented by
attorney Hilal Kuey in cooperation with the ERRC. The plaintiffs accuse
the Fatih Municipality implementing the project and the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism that approved its implementation of breaching
domestic and international laws, including Turkey’s Constitution. The
ERRC supports the litigants financially within the framework of an
European Union funded project entitled “Promoting Roma Rights in
Turkey”, in partnership with  the aforementioned NGOs. The work of the
ERRC in Turkey is sponsored by the European Commission, Swedish
International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Open Society Institute.

The urban renovation project, in effect since November 2007, foresees
the transfer of Sulukule’s Roma population to social housing at the
Tasoluk district located 40 kilometers away from their current
residence. Though local Roma theoretically have the possibility to buy
homes from the condominium complex planned to be built on the site of
their quarter in Sulukule, the overwhelming majority of them cannot
afford the prices of the new housing and will be forced out of Sulukule. 

The complaint asks the court to annul the urban renovation project on
the grounds that it is in contravention of the national Constitution, a
number of domestic legislative acts, as well as international human
rights law. In particular, the applicants claim that the implementation
of the project is in violation of the Constitutional protection of the
right to property and heritage as well as the protection of historical,
cultural and natural assets. Furthermore, the complaint asserts that the
project violates rights protected under the European Convention on Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms --  the right to private and family life
(Article 8); the prohibition of discrimination (Article 14) in
connection to Article 8; as well as the right to peaceful enjoyment of
one’s possessions (Article 1, Protocol 1). 

The representatives of the Sulukule Roma community challenge the
legitimacy of the project on grounds that “the project has been planned
without involving the local community and taking into account their
concerns and the historical as well as cultural heritage of the area.”
Their representative attorney Hilal Kuey, also points out that the
plaintiffs’ legal rights were breached due to a conflict of interest in
the composition of the body which approved the project.

The ERRC has engaged in advocacy action to protect the rights of the
Sulukule residents since the news of the Urban Renovation Project first
broke in 2006. Letters of concern to authorities in Turkey against the
destruction of Sulukule and other actual or threatened violations of
housing rights can be accessed at: 

ERRC Calls on Prime Minister of Turkey to Intervene to alt Forced
Evictions of Romani Communities

Wave of Racially-Targeted Housing Destruction in Turkey

For further information:

Sinan Gokcen – European Roma Rights Center
Phone: +36 1 4132200
E-mail: sinan@errc.org

Sevgi Ozcelik – Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly 
Tel: 0 212 292 68 42-43 
E-mail: sevgi@hyd.org.tr 


The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the
web at http://www.errc.org 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200

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