Municipality teams on Thursday started demolishing parts of the Sulukule neighborhood, home primarily to Roma people, as part of a planned renovation project in the area. Buildings lining the Neslişah and Hatice Sultan streets were the first to be demolished. The municipality announced that the neighborhood would be left without electricity for the next eight days due to the ongoing demolition project, which sparked a strong reaction among residents.
Residents said being left without electricity for more than a week will create a situation in which they will not even be able to perform basic daily activities, noting that this is especially problematic because the holy month of Ramadan is approaching. “We are not against demolition in our neighborhood. But it is not normal for the electricity to be cut for eight days at a time when Ramadan is approaching. We’ve prepared so much food for Ramadan. It will go to waste if we don’t have electricity to run our refrigerators,” they said.
Other residents voiced the fear that their neighborhood would be the target of burglars if they are left without electricity. “How can we feel safe at night if we have no electricity? Burglars will threaten our lives during this period,” they said.
The demolition project in the area will continue in the days ahead. The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality plans to construct 620 new houses, a hotel and a culture and entertainment center in Sulukule. The planned renovation project in the neighborhood and the relocation of its inhabitants had drawn the indignation of residents and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). İstanbul is currently on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is expected to take the necessary steps for the protection of its historical sites, one of which is the Sulukule neighborhood.