• “Cleaning out the Ghettos” - Urban Governance and the Remaking of Kurdistan

    Over the last couple of weeks, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the ruling AKP government have started to lay out the details of the government’s master plan for urban renewal in Turkey’s conflict-ridden Kurdish region in Southeast Anatolia. Though the government announced on 9 March that military operations in Sur had been completed, many of the aspects of the plans remain ambiguous. Nonetheless, it is evident that the government’s aim is to achieve a dramatic spatial and socio-economic reconfiguration of the region. For example, Davutoğlu announced a ten-point “master plan” for Kurdish cities in Turkey that ties notions of terrorism to economic underdevelopment and the languishing nature of urban life in the region. In the announcement, he rebuked HDP municipal leaders in the region for “supporting terrorism instead of making investments,” promising to “fortify” the region’s economy by deferring debts for tradesmen, artists, and farmers, and by offering new loans. And he promised to rebuild Diyarbakır’s historical Sur district “so well that humanity will come back to life” (“Sur’u öyle bir inşa edeceğiz ki insanlık ihya olacak”). In early March, similarly, Davutoğlu announced a “great reconstruction...through which the state will demonstrate its constructive capacity” (“Devlet inşa kudretini de gösterecektir”) to begin in Silopi—a district in the Southeastern city of Şırnak that was set under curfew for over a month until mid-January.

    In this article, we discuss how these ideas of revitalization and urban transformation fit into the larger war that the Turkish government has been waging in Kurdistan for the past several months. We examine how the discourses of public housing and ghettoization intersect in order to understand the connections between the capitalization and governmentalization of urban space in Kurdistan. In Turkey, public housing has long been a tool for reorganizing urban spaces and the people who inhabit them. The urban transformation and gentrification of Istanbul, for example, has been the subject of countless academic articles as well as of the acclaimed documentary Ekümenopolis. Conversely, the notion of Kurdish city centers as “ghettos” constitutes a unique discursive turn worth exploring. By forcibly displacing whatever “innocent” civilians may have inhabited these urban spaces and consequently pathologizing these spaces as blighted by terrorism, the Turkish government has legitimized the wholesale liquidation of anyone who did not (or could not) flee from the military occupation. And it has set the stage for long-term forms of structural and economic violence aimed at stamping out oppositional Kurdish lifeworlds.

    #Guerre #Kurdistan #Urbanisation #TOKI #Capitalisme #Urbicide

  • Lettre d’un ouvrier : « Pourquoi j’ai voté AKP ? » | KEDISTAN

    Une lettre adressée à Evrensel, un quotidien de gauche en Turquie, écrite par un ouvrier d’Artemis à Gebze, expliquant les raisons qui l’ont incité à voter pour l’AKP circule depuis hier sur les médias sociaux. Ces propos sincères qui révèlent comment l’AKP, avec toutes les institutions publiques qui lui sont proches, a remporté les élections par le biais de menaces d’instabilité politique et économique, méritent une attention particulière :

    Moi, le 1er novembre, quand je votais pour l’AKP, je n’ai pas voté en tant qu’ouvrier mais en tant qu’acheteur d’un appartement de TOKİ et endetté d’un crédit bancaire de 15 ans.

    #TOKI #Turquie #AKP

  • Manmade peninsula under way in Istanbul - GREEN

    A 140,000-meter square manmade peninsula as large as ten football stadiums has plans to be constructed as a shoreline extension of Istanbul’s Ataköy neighborhood, which has ran out of space for new buildings.

    The Mega Marina will be made as an extension of the area known as the Ataköy Tourism Complex, which also contains the Galleria Shopping Mall, Sheraton Hotel, Ataköy Marina Hotel, Ataköy Marina and Ataköy Marina Park, and will be used as a marina for large cruisers.

    The process to fill the peninsula has already begun, with filling materials being carried by ships to the construction site because of heavy traffic on the road running along the construction site.

    The Bakırköy Municipality said there had been no official request filed at the municipality for a permit to fill the peninsula, adding they had been informed that the ongoing filling operation was for the breakwater.

    Ataköy Tourism Complex is currently under the administration of Dati-Mariners Ataköy Tourism and Construction Company, a company of Dati Holding that was founded by Şadan Kalkavan, Fuat Miras, Gündüz Kaptanoğlu, Eşref Cerrahoğlu and Metin Kalkavan.

    The owner of the area, however, is the State Housing Development Association (TOKİ).

    TOKİ and Dati Holding had previously eyed the land for construction licenses but the tender was canceled due to lack of sufficient participants.

    #Transformation_urbaine #Istanbul #Rivage #Gravats #TOKI

  • TOKİ an increasing source of urban discontent, says World Bank

    Turkey’s rate of urbanization in recent decades has only been second to South Korea, and a major vehicle of this has been the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ). This organization, however, has become an “increasing source of urban discontent,” World Bank Turkey Director Martin Raiser said on Wednesday at the release of a new World Bank report in İstanbul.

    #TOKI #Turquie

  • Two-thirds of residents unhappy with TOKİ houses

    Nearly two-thirds of residents who live in houses built by the state-owned Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) are dissatisfied with the quality of their houses, a poll has revealed.

    The results of a recent survey of 5,000 residents conducted by the housing administration reveal widespread dissatisfaction among customers. TOKİ asked residents if they were satisfied with the quality of houses and 72 percent responded by complaining about the defective end product, saying they are not happy with the quality of construction materials used.


  • Alarm Over Istanbul’s Building Boom

    We are invading Istanbul again,” the real estate agent said enthusiastically as she ticked off the selling points of Turkey’s most ambitious development extravaganza to date: Maslak 1453.

    According to research by Mustafa Sonmez, author of numerous books on the Turkish economy, Mr. Erdogan has favored the construction and real estate sectors at the expense of important export sectors.

    “It’s a shame,” said Mr. Sonmez, who calculates that construction spending is now about 9 percent of the overall economy, a level that the International Monetary Fund has found to be associated with problems in other countries. “We have used all this free money to build houses and feed the domestic market.”

    To date, the local market had been remarkably resilient, overcoming a global rise in interest rates caused by last year’s “taper tantrum” surrounding the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin cutting back on stimulus, and the anti-government, anti-development street protests at Taksim Square here in Istanbul.

    But in the first three months of the year, unit sales for new apartments were down about 60 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Emlak Konut, the country’s largest real estate investment company.

    Moreover, Mr. Eren said, the inventory of unsold housing units has risen to 1.5 million, compared to levels close to zero several years ago, a clear sign that the slowing economy and higher interest rates are cutting into demand.

    The potential for a real estate crash highlights the role of the relatively obscure Housing Development Administration, commonly known as Toki, in fueling the boom.

    Traditionally a bureaucratic backwater with a mandate to push for more affordable homes, Toki emerged as a housing power center when its bylaws were changed in January 2004 to bring it under the direct control of Mr. Erdogan less than a year after he was elected. Under his sponsorship, Toki amassed choice properties at little or no cost, auctioned them off to developers and took a cut of the profits.

    According to Mr. Sonmez, Toki has been particularly aggressive in backing high-end projects undertaken by developers with ties to Mr. Erdogan. They include Ali Agaoglu, the billionaire businessman behind Maslak 1453, who late last year was one of a number of business executives, bankers and politicians questioned by the police as part of a broad corruption investigation. Also questioned were two Toki board members.


  • Turquie : la justice referme l’un des dossiers de corruption touchant le régime

    Ouf, le business as usual va pouvoir reprendre et continuer !!

    Le procureur d’Istanbul responsable du dossier a considéré qu’il n’y avait pas de charges suffisantes pour poursuivre ces personnalités, accusées de malversations dans le cadre de marchés immobiliers gérés par la puissante agence publique du logement (Toki), a précisé l’agence de presse Dogan. Parmi les suspects figuraient un magnat de l’immobilier, Ali Agaoglu, et le fils de l’ancien ministre de l’Environnement, Oguz Bayraktar. Ces personnes avaient été interpellées mi-décembre, dans le cadre d’un vaste coup de filet anticorruption qui a provoqué la démission de trois ministres et a éclaboussé l’ensemble du gouvernement, y compris le Premier ministre Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


  • Resistance to urban renewal in historic Black Sea town

    Although Turkey’s Council of State granted a stay of execution on a controversial urban renewal project, the Prime Ministry’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) has geared up to partly demolish a sleepy Black Sea town which was home to Armenians in the past, triggering local resistance.

    Hemşin lies next to its touristic neighbor Çamlıhemşin in the eastern Black Sea province of Rize. Tea growing is the primary source of income for the 2,300 people living in the town.

    Former mayor Başar Cumbur was the first official to come up with the urban renewal idea in the area in 2006. “Our goal was to protect the historical structures, while renovating the bad ones. We wanted to create a Hemşin town where people could stay permanently,” Cumbur said.

    He therefore signed a protocol with TOKİ in 2008, but locals opposed the municipality’s initial plans. As a result, the mayor changed and so did the plans. Now, TOKİ plans to turn Hemşin into a touristic town with 157 residences and 29 shops. Each apartment will cost approximately 150,000 Turkish Liras (50,780 euros).


  • Head of Turkey’s housing agency replaced amid reshuffle in bureaucracy

    Karabel has been dismissed after three years at the helm of the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ), which has overseen the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s breakneck efforts to build housing units anywhere and everywhere.

    AKP Istanbul Municipality Assembly member Mehmet Ergün Turan has replaced Karabel, according to an announcement in the Official Gazette.

    Karabel’s name recently came to agenda when an audio recording alleged to be between himself and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was leaked on social media.

    In the alleged conversation, a man claimed to be Erdoğan lashes out at another man thought to be Karabel for selling “valuable land” on the Asian side of Istanbul to another company outside of his knowledge. The prime minister orders Karabel to inform him about all acquisition opportunities, according to the tape


  • Turkey’s Erdoğan monopolizes high-value land sales, recording reveals

    Twitter whistleblower Başçalan (Prime Thief) leaked a voice recording on Thursday in which a voice allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticizes a high-ranking government official for selling a valuable plot of land in İstanbul without his permission.

    The conversation, purportedly between Erdoğan and Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) Chairman Ahmet Haluk Karabel, has the prime minister chiding the official for selling a valuable plot of land in the Ataşehir district of İstanbul to a company called Biat İnşaat without informing him beforehand.

    “From now on, you will get my approval before selling any valuable land,” Erdoğan instructs Karabel, according to a transcript accompanying the voice recording. In response, Karabel says that he already knows not to take action without Erdoğan’s approval, but the prime minister challenges him, saying he did not know about the sale of the land in Ataşehir.

    Appearing to be interested in the details of the sale, Erdoğan questions Karabel about the price and how many installments the company will pay for the land. Erdoğan further asks Karabel to research if a nullification of the sale would be possible since it took place without his permission. Karabel says he will send Erdoğan a folder with details of the case.

    Karabel says the land was sold for TL 72 million and the Turkish construction company that bought it, Biat İnşaat, “had no problems paying in installments.”

    Erdoğan’s ever-increasing involvement in Turkey’s construction sector is already a hot topic, and a second corruption investigation launched on Dec. 25 of last year shifted public attention towards irregularities in public tenders and major construction projects


  • TOKİ faces lawsuits over poor quality housing


    The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) has been facing an increasing number of lawsuits due to the use of inferior materials and poor workmanship in its mass housing projects.

    In the southern province of Adana, almost 6,000 lawsuits have been brought against TOKİ. In most of the cases, the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered TOKİ to compensate the homeowners for the problems in the houses it built.


  • Concerns rise on whether urban transformation now urban looting

    People are increasingly reacting negatively to urban transformation projects which have long been viewed as prestigious moves of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.
    As part of an urban transformation project that was officially started by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 5, 2012, more than 500,000 houses in 25 districts including Esenler, Bağcılar, Gaziosmanpaşa, Zeytinburnu, Pendik, Kartal, Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer, Bayrampaşa, Güngören, Sultangazi, Tuzla, Kadıköy, Beşiktaş and Üsküdar will be destroyed within a short period of time. However, there are now concerns that this ambitious project will affect thousands of people.

    Gülizar Karslıoğlu, whose house was partially demolished by local authorities, left her home with her daughter and granddaughter. Karslıoğlu, who lives in the Sarıgöl district — which is part of the transformation project — says that they faced intimidation and threats by construction firms despite the fact that they had been assured procedures would be performed fairly. Karslıoğlu says that she takes cares of her mother, who is 85: “We stayed hungry sometimes to build our home. But now the municipality and the construction firm are doing their best to take it away from us. We were threatened by local authorities to leave immediately and that even the rest of the building could be demolished.”

    Even after being partially demolished, the rents for homes in Sarıgöl have increased dramatically. Noting that rental subsidies given to land and homeowners would not be enough, Fatma Kartal says that they are trying to coordinate people who are affected by this process in an attempt to defend their rights.

    Saying that they are unable to sleep well at night because of the unsafe environments, Kartal also said: “We want transformation here. We do not want to go anywhere else. We spent our childhood here. But the views of the people are not taken into account. We do not want to live in concrete cages.” Minister of Environment and Urban Planning İdris Güllüce, who visited the Esenler district last week, stressed that people’s consent was very important in the urban transformation projects.

    #Transformation urbaine

  • Turkey’s housing agency opens Istanbul’s coastal area to building without permission

    Turkey’s state-owned housing agency (TOKİ) has moved to open tenders and allowed construction on a historic Istanbul site in total violation of the Coastal Law and without the consent of the cultural board competent on giving the green light to such licenses, daily Radikal revealed Jan. 23.


  • INSIGHT-Earth is gold: graft probe turns eyes to Turkey building boom


    The government’s critics say the legal framework surrounding the construction sector, a key driver of the economy, has been repeatedly watered down in recent years, creating loopholes that developers can exploit for profit.

    Turkey’s Public Tender Act has been amended 31 times since the AK Party came to power, according to Oya Ozarslan, head of the local chapter of anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

    The changes put ever more sectors outside its scope, including urban development projects and a significant proportion of TOKI’s activity building housing.

    “This law has become like a Swiss cheese,” Ozarslan said, estimating that close to half of government procurement fell outside the scope of the act.

    “We know TOKI makes a lot of money but how? It should be transparent and it should be open to audit.”

    TOKI had no immediate comment.

    Under the motto “Building Turkey of the Future”, it is the government’s main urban development arm, charged with transforming shanty towns and developing mass housing projects, much of it through revenue-sharing deals with private companies.

    An investigation from 2004 by the prime ministry’s own audit board, seen by Reuters, said TOKI’s revenue-sharing model was not fully transparent and public assets had been sold at below fair value. The opposition CHP accused the ruling AK Party in a 2011 report of using TOKI to transfer state property to firms close to the government, which AK denies.

    “TOKI is not just building housing and hospitals, it is selling government land,” said Aykut Erdogdu, a CHP member of parliament who compiled the opposition party’s dossier. “We don’t know how they sell it, what the real value is.”