Istanbul’s ancient Roma community falls victim to building boom | Reuters

ISTANBUL (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Uygun Dum lives with 17 members of his extended family in a ramshackle shed with no hot water in Istanbul’s Kucukbakkalkoy neighborhood.

The 30-year-old laments the dire conditions in which he and his family live, though he admits it is one step above being thrown out on the street – a reality they all now face.

Last month, the Atasehir district municipality served an eviction notice on the Dum family, who live in what are among the last dwellings of a formerly thriving Roma neighborhood in Turkey’s largest city that has been all but eradicated.

It’s not the first time the family have faced eviction.

In 2006, their previous home – a more structurally sound cottage – and many of their neighbors’ houses were demolished for redevelopment, even though the Dum family held documents which should have protected them.

Uygun’s late father, Yüksel, held a “reservation certificate” for the cottage. This was not a full title deed but a document affording the holder certain rights, including the ‘right to buy the property prior to the initiation of any eviction or demolition procedures,'” the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) said in a letter to the Atasehir municipality.

“They knocked the houses down without allowing anyone to collect their furniture,” Dum told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Dum’s father built the flimsy hut where the family now live on the same block of land and filed a lawsuit against the municipality. But while legal wheels were still turning, the land was sold and his father and mother have since passed away.

“Since they are going to knock it down, I’m going to gather my furniture and settle in front of the district governor’s office,” Dum said defiantly.

CITY LIMITS

The last decade in Istanbul has been defined by an unprecedented construction boom that has seen informal, shanty-town neighborhoods like Kucukbakkalkoy quickly replaced by apartment blocks built for higher income…

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