Istanbul (Turkey): squatting update

– Yeldeğirmeni, Don Kişot: Began during Summer 2013. Evicted in November 2015. Torn down in November 2016.

– Kadıköy, Caferağa: Began in Autumn 2013. Evicted in December 2014. Burnt down in November 2016.

– Beşiktaş, Berkin Elvan: Began in Spring 2014. Evicted in a month…

– Söğütlüçeşme, Samsa: Began in Spring 2014. Abandoned by many activists by Winter 2015. The building stands still as doors locked.

– Acıbadem, Lojman: Began in Winter 2016. Abandoned by many activists by Summer 2016. This squat is still open. Contact: lojman@@@riseup.net

[Translated from Turkish.]

Turkey: Gregor Samsa and Don Kişot fighting against windmills. Squatting in Istanbul as an attempt to resist neoliberal urban politics

Donkisot_serbesiyet_IstanbulOn the Trails of Don Kişot – Our Field Research in Istanbul
By the changing shape of the Istanbul skyline, the rapid growth of production within the city since the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) rose to power in 2002 is easily visible to the city’s inhabitants. Over the past two decades, Istanbul has undergone a neoliberal restructuring process (1). Progressing globalization and digitalization have not only turned the city into a site absorbing surplus value – an epicenter of the accumulation of capital – they have also formed a new urban space in which traditional national spatial arrangements engage with those of the global digital age (2).

As a research group, we were concerned with Istanbul’s economic, cultural and social transformation into a global city over the past 50 years as well as the various effects of this transformation. During our travel to Istanbul from May 23, until May 31, 2014, we conducted field research on squatting in stanbul. The political controversies regarding common usage of urban space in everyday life as well as the political struggles stemming from immense changes of social life culminating in the Gezi Park protest in 2013 were the most obvious links between the projects we visited.

In reference to David Harveys’ “Rebel Cities”, we call people’s occupation of Taksim Square “their right to the city” (3). In our field research, we intended to explore the political intentions of The Don Kişot Sosyal Merkezi, a squat in Istanbul German leftist magazines focused on, calling it a “follow up movement to Gezi.” (4) We asked ourselves in which way squatting in Istanbul is connected to the 2013 Gezi Park protest movement and how it relates to neoliberal politics and
urban transformation. [Read More]

Turkey: Reclaim the Urban Commons: Istanbul’s First Squat

Squatters in Istanbul reclaim their ‘right to the city’ and fight for social justice in a city where big business sets the urban development agenda. 

Another construction site in Istanbul. Prime Mininster Erdoğan’s special inclination towards so-called “urban renewal projects” has made them pop up all over the city. In both 2010 and 2011 Istanbul was ranked number one among European cities in terms of real estate investment and development, due to its high-speed urban transformation.

But the three-story building taking shape in the increasingly popular district of Kadiköy is not exactly contributing to the kind of urban transformation aspired by the current AKP administration. The colors, the music, and the crowd filling the corner house on this Saturday afternoon in late November are not indicating the inauguration of another shopping mall — on the contrary, they are part of the daily life of Istanbul’s first squat.

While many European cities have a long and proud squatting tradition, evolved primarily out of the problems of rising rent and lack of proper living spaces, in the case of Istanbul the focus seems to be a slightly different one. “Under the domination of money and unearned income all the commonly used places are being taken away,” one of the activists explains in Fatih Pınar’s short documentary about the new squat. “What we are after, in fact,” someone else adds, “is to create again the public spaces that have been taken from us.” [Read More]

From Madrid to Istanbul: Occupying Public Space

Istanbul’s first squat is more than an experiment: it is a counter-hegemonic intervention that challenges the neoliberal dogma of growth at all costs.

In “Occupy the Squares, Squat the Buildings”, a paper written shortly after the eviction of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, Miguel Martínez and Ángela García show how two movements — the mass popular occupation of Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol, and that of Madrid’s squatted and self-managed social centers — interacted to reinforce one another through shared resources, shared physical spaces, shared logistics and people, and of course shared (but by no means homogeneous) ideas and practices. Horizontality has been the organizational modus operandi of these movements, advancing a staunchly anti-neoliberal, if not outright anti-capitalist critique of Spain’s deteriorating economic and political status quo. This is a status quo primarily characterized by heinous and growing wealth inequality, desperate unemployment, savage austerity, opportunistic privatizations and deeply embedded political corruption.

The opening of Istanbul’s first squatted and self-managed social center, appropriately named Don Kişot (Quixote) shortly after the eviction of Gezi Park, has key parallels with the Spanish experience. The inquisitiveness of one of forty odd police officers during a first visit to Kadiköy’s first squatted and self-managed social center, is revealing: does this have something to do with Gezi Park? The answer, of course, is yes — it has a lot to do with the predominantly anti-authoritarian uprising against the AKP government. The critical yet pragmatic anti-neoliberal or anti-capitalist strand of protest that was so apparent during the Gezi Park occupation has resurfaced in this once empty building, which now houses autonomous community projects of all shapes and kinds. [Read More]

Istanbul: New Squat ‘Don Quixote’

In the aftermath of the Gezi-protests, Istanbul’s newly-formed solidarity groups continue to work on lasting change. One recent development is the long empty and recently squatted building ‘Don Quixote’ in the district Kadiköy. ‘Don Quixote’ will become Istanbul’s first social center of this kind.
[Read More]

Istanbul (Turkey): Don Quixote Occupies the Windmill

Don_Quixote_squat_Istanbul

Yeldeğirmeni (The Windmill) Solidarity, a local group based in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district, occupied a half-constructed apartment building abandoned for 15 years, calling it Don Quixote. bianet interviewed group activists who spoke up on their story.

Activists from Yeldeğirmeni (The Windmill) Solidarity occupied a half-constructed apartment building abandoned for 15 years, calling it Don Quixote.

The story broke as police forces paid a “visit” to the building for investigation. [Read More]