Residents of a neighborhood in İstanbul’s Sarıyer district where the homes have for the most part been illegally constructed clashed with police officers yesterday during the demolition of 40 structures.
The fact that the tenants had agreed to vacate the houses did not stop the residents of the neighborhood from resisting the demolition, believing that they could be next in the line to be forced to leave their homes. People who had previously agreed to vacate the premises were hesitant to leave for fear of an adverse reaction from their neighbors.
İstanbul riot police arrived in the neighborhood at about 4 a.m. on Tuesday to intervene in the event of a clash while residents vacated their houses and demolition squads did their work. Numerous police panzers and riot control vehicles (TOMA) were brought to the scene as a precaution for a possible incident. Forty-one trucks also arrived on the scene to help the dispossessed residents move their belongings. Police officers accompanied workers in the trucks.
Upon hearing the arrival of the teams that came to demolish the houses, the residents poured out into the street. As the teams headed to the houses, the residents blocked the vehicles, and a group of neighbors sat in the street to prevent police from entering the houses. During a brawl that erupted between police and residents, a man suffering from heart disease fell ill and was taken to the hospital. Residents threw stones at the houses scheduled for demolition as well as the vehicles that came to help transport the residents and their belongings.
Police used high-pressure water and tear gas to stop the clash.
In the meantime, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality issued a statement on the incident, saying the demolitions were not being carried out by the municipality but by the cooperative that owns the land where the houses were illegally built.