PROJECTS: Kurdish in Turkey
“I feel like I am a stranger here”, said Gulcan Kesman, a Kurdish resident of Istanbul Turkey. Kesman is continually discriminated against for being Kurdish despite living in her community for over 10 years. Feeling alone and isolated, she and her two sisters-in-law often confine themselves to the small ramshackle community they live in. Kesman said the women feel as though integration is much harder for them than their husbands. “We can’t even ask our neighbors to watch our kids,” she added.
The family of 18 is supported by three brothers, Irfan, Yenge, and Nimet. The men work long hours at a water pipe and doner restaurant, scarcely making enough to pay for rent and food. One third of their checks go to pay for school tuition fees, of which they say they receive no aid from the Turkish government. Despite over 15 warning to vacate their residence, the family continues to stay on in their small squatter settlement. Situated in the middle of Nasantasi, one of the most affluent areas of Istanbul, the shanty dwellings have been slated to be demolished for several years. Their community is referred to by locals as Gecekondu’s -a term translated to home built over night. This is just one such development of about 50 neighborhoods in Istanbul that are earmarked for urban renewal projects by the government. With little to no alternatives, the residents live in a perpetual state of fear of eviction.