Many Istanbul neighbourhoods have been going through large transformations in recent years, which have lead to demolition of houses and eviction of the people. In some cases residents are being relocated to the outskirts of the city while others are being left to streets. While the actual number of evictions to date in Istanbul is quite small, the scale of potential evictions is high if the urban renewal plans are carried out as foreseen. Different factors are driving these evictions, from property speculation in the regeneration of urban areas, to mega-events or mega-projects, such as the airport, Formula 1 racing and the 2010 Capital of Culture. The whole transformation machinery is powered by the Mass Housing Administration of central government, TOKI, and supported by the municipality. The former has became a real-estate giant that increased its assets tenfold in less than 5 years by a system of having free and easy access to land, and contracting private developers to build both high-income housing units (to generate funds) and social houses (to provide shelter to displaced masses). The latter mainly functions to clear the land-to-be-renewed from the existing built and social environment.
In response to reports by local organisations that further evictions are expected to take place, the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE) to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT was invited by civil society groups to undertake a mission to Istanbul. The mission, which took place from June 8th to 12th, 2009, was tasked with documenting ongoing and future possible evictions, assessing the exiting legal framework, and hearing the viewpoints of those responsible for and those affected by evictions. In the areas visited by the mission, approximately 80,000 people were directly affected by the urban renewal projects. In total, 12,730 people have already had their homes destroyed. However, these numbers might be only the tip of the iceberg. TOKI’s and Istanbul Municipality officials converging recent declarations stating that they plan to rebuild 1 million buildings in Istanbul gives the scale of the dramatic problem that around 8 to 10 million poor and middle-class residents of Istanbul living in these 1 million buildings are facing and will be facing in the near future if nothing is done to reverse the current trend and the current practices.
by Mapping Forced Evictions in Istanbul Workshop Participants*, organized by Yaşar Adanalı, Can Altay and Philipp Misselwitz, information graphics by Studio Matthias Görlich.
* Workshop Participants (students from ETH Zurich, Mimar Sinan University, Yıldız Teknik University: Christopher Metz, Nadia Vitali, Sabine Schaub, Gisela Funk, Yeliz Er, Gözde Şarlak, Ekin Bozkurt, Şeyda Bülbül) based on research by UN-AGFE mission to Istanbul (Cihan Baysal, Yves Cabannes, Arif Hasan).
Acknowledgements: We wish to thank the following individuals and organisations for their support and contribution: Dayanışmacı Atölye, Depo, Express Magazine, İmece, Istanbul Metropolitan Planning Centre, UN-AGFE Mission to Istanbul, Sulukule Platform, Emrah Altınok, Merve Akı, Aslı Aygün, Cihan Baysal, Fadime Boztaş, Yves Cabannes, Ayşe Çavdar, Asena Günal, Arif Hassan, Cassidy Johnson, Hüseyin Kaptan, Osman Kavala, Tansel Korkmaz, Zeynep Morali, Serdar Özbay, Ece Sarıyüz, Selin Saadet Top, Hade Türkmen, Murat Vekfioğlu, Erdoğan Yıldız, Eda Ünlü-Yücesoy.
 (Aysel Alp, Okhan Şentürk, 15.11.2007, Turkish Daily News).