Authorities cut basic services of residents protesting urban transformation project in Istanbul neighborhood

Authorities have cut water, electricity and gas services in homes in Istanbul’s Fetihtepe district, which has been the center of social tension as residents have been protesting evictions due to an urban transformation project, the Duvar news website reported.

According to lawyer Onur Cingil, the authorities are trying to pressure residents into signing consent forms for urban transformation by suspending basic services. He urged residents not to give in to these tactics. “If they sign the consent forms, they will be forced out of their homes and neighborhoods,” he said.

Police officers have been stationed in the neighborhood for weeks, and raids on homes have become commonplace. Journalists who have been reporting on the protests have been targeted by the police and prevented from following the incidents.

Opposition politicians have criticized the eviction of residents for urban transformation projects. Erdoğan Horlu, from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said that during local elections the Justice and Development Party (AKP) had promised an end to evictions but was now resorting to illegal methods so residents will abandon their homes.

The Beyoğlu Municipality decided to initiate an urban transformation project in several neighborhoods — including Fetihtepe — and declared 6 million houses unsafe for habitation. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said these houses would be demolished and rebuilt.

Although authorities said these projects aim to make the neighborhoods safer and more habitable, critics argue that they leave the residents “homeless.” Although residents were compensated for relinquishing their homes, the amount received was much lower than the original value of their homes, meaning they had difficulty finding housing elsewhere.

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