Conflict Period and following Demolition of the Old city (SURİÇİ) of DIYARBAKIR
August 1, 2017

Nevin Soyukaya
Former head of the UNESCO World Heritage Site



The Fortress of Diyarbakir and the Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape have maintained their
importance for thousands of years because of its strategic location between the East and the West. The
multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-layered character of the walled city, called Suriçi and today part
of the Sur District, has woven many different cultures into its fabric. Diyarbakir has been the heart of
many civilizations and the regional capital at the time of the Persian, Roman, Sassanian, Byzantine and
Islamic empires. The old city has been designed in a way where the magic fortress, specific civil
architecture and street fabric, religious buildings consisting of mosques, churches and synagogues, and
other public buildings such as caravansaries and traditional baths can be observed and experienced as
cultural assets in one settlement area. designated an Urban Conservation Area since 2012. UNESCO
declared the City Walls and adjacent Hevsel Gardens a World Heritage Site in 2015, with the walled
city being the buffer zone.

In Suriçi are located in total 595 registered cultural monuments, 147 of them are examples of
monumental and 448 of civil architecture. The old city Suriçi including its fortress has been registered
as the “Diyarbakir Urban Conservation Area” in 1988.

Suriçi consists of 15 neighborhoods and in 2015 it had a total population of 50.341.
The UNESCO World Heritage nomination process of the fortress and the Hevsel Gardens was
launched in January of 2012. The Site Management Plan was prepared with an active democratic
participation of all relevant institutions, organizations, NGOs, scientists and neighborhood mayors. As
“Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape” it was registered as a World Heritage
Site at the 39th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July 2015.

Only two months after the enlisting as World Heritage Site the regional armed conflict had
grave impacts on Suriçi which is part of the buffer zone. In Surici totally five times curfews have been
declared by the governor between beginning in September 2015 and lasting several days. Particularly
the six neighborhoods Cevat Paşa, Dabanoğlu, Fatih Paşa, Hasırlı, Cemal Yılmaz ve Savaş have been
affected by these 24 hour blockades through the security forces. The last and ongoing curfew dating on
December 11, 2015 is valid for five neighborhoods. Armed skirmishes, curfew and blockades set up by
special police forces and the gendarmerie, continued in five neighbourhoods, and were extended to the
neighbourhoods of Ziya Gökalp, Süleyman Nazif, Abdaldede, Lalebey and Alipasha from 27 January
2016 to 03 February 2016. The Diyarbakir governor’s office declared on the 10 March 2016 that
operations had come to an end…

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