Chronology of Sulukule

Compilation and translation : Hamdi Gargin


(1054) :

First Romani settlement in the neighbourhood of Edirnekapı.


XIX-XXth Century:

Sulukule becomes famous in Europe and USA for tis entertainment tradition (music and danse).


1950 :

Important destructions take place for the creation of avenue like Vatan caddesi. A part of Romani neighbourhood disappears.


1982 :

The houses close to Millet Caddesi, which form the oldest quarter of Sulukule, are destrroyed.


1970 :

The “Association for the tourism and survival of Sulukule” organizes the “International festival of Çigan” with the support of the ministry of Tourism. A decision is taken by the ministry to protect Sulukule.


1980 :

The neighbourhood becomes the stage of popular films and site-coms (Arkadaş avec Yılmaz Güney – Gırgıriye 1981 – 1984 ; Cennet Mahallesi since 2004).


1992 :

Süleyman Ulusoy, nicknamed ‘Hortum Süleyman‘, from the police headquarter of Fatih, closes all the entertainement houses, leaving 300 musicians and their families without incomes.


1992 – 2005 :

Sulukule is forgotten during this period, living isolated from the rest of the city.


7 June 2005 :

The municipality of Fatih makes a declaration during the “Renovation Fair”: “All the buildings have been listed during the months of October and November 2005. On each plot, housing spaces have been stated and all the physical measures have been made, according the number of floors in each building, in order to estimate the real estate value“. Datas about local social profile have been totally ignored at this stage.


November 2005 :

The quarters of Sulukule, Neslişah and Hatice Sultan become “renewal area”, according the law 5366, which facilitates the expropriation process. Inhabitants are “encouraged” to relocate to Taşoluk (Gaziosmanpaşa).


28 June 2006 :

The “Association for the solidarity and the development of Sulukule Romani culture ” (Sulukule Roman Kültürünü Geliştirme ve Dayanışma Derneğiı – “Sulukule association”) makes its first declaration to press1, to remind the socio-economic conditions of inhabitants and the risks of eviction.


3 July 2006 :

TOKI (Collective Housing Administration), IBB (the metropolitan municipality of Istanbul) and the district municipality of Fatih sign a protocol fot the destruction of Sulukule. The “renewal area” (law 5366) is 86.760 m2 large, with 355 parcels and concerns 571 families. Less than 300 of them are owners.


13 July 2006 :

An agreement is signed between the district municipality of Fatih and the TOKI for the rebuilding of the new houses in Sulukule. According the president of the “Sulukule association”, inhabitants have not been informed about any housing programme.


14 September 2006 :

A letter is sent to the cabinet of the Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the signature of the European Centre of Romani Rights, the “Association of Helsinki Citizens” and different associations active in Turkey.


13 December 2006 :

The Council of ministers votes a “emergency expropriation” (Acele Kamulaştırma Kararı).


12 February 2007 :

Sulukule inhabitants introduce an appeal against the vote of expropriation at the administrative tribunal of Istanbul.


22 February 2007 :

A house is accidentelly destroyed by the machines of Fatih municipality. Pieces of land and houses are bought by the municipality.


1st April – 15 May 07 :

40 days before the demolition operations announced by the municipality, associations, volunteers, inhabitants, university members and students start “40 days 40 nights” programme :


18 May 2007 :

Miloon Kothari, rapporteur for United Nations, transmits a report on the situation of Sulukule Roms (A/HRC/4/18/Add.1, General Assembly, Council of human Rights, 4th session) : “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living“.


15 October 2007 :

Expiration date of subscription for the housing programme of TOKI at Taşoluk (Gaziosmanpasa).


22 October 2007 :

A list of the houses demolished so far is elaborated :

-21 buildings are demolished and between 280 and 320 inhabitants left the neighbourhood.

-104 properties have been sold to others (1/5 of the total properties)

-only 8 Romani owners agreed on a transaction with the municipality directly. 4 of them want to cancel the transaction.


6 November 2007 :

The progress report of the EU Commission notices the decision of Council of ministers on Sulukule, and the the necessity of progress in housing rights.


13 November 2007:

Twenty-five people from the “Sulukule association” and the other neighbourhood residents presented eighty-four petition signatures to the Human Rights Commission of the National Assembly of Turkish Republic regarding to problems in Sulukule. The same day, CHP (Republican Public’s Party) Istanbul representative, Cetin Soysal, delivered a speach at the National Assembly and said “Fatih Municipality should remember that they are doing this project for the people. Without giving more pain to the locals here, considering their income level should create a life style that is comparative to their culture”. Environment and Forestry minister, Veysel Eroglu, answered Cetin Soysal and mentioned that Sulukule people were not being treated unjustly; Fatih Municipality prepared the project by talking with people living there and giving his personal endorsement of support.


20 November 2007:

AKP (Justice and Development Party) Fatih executive board member, the lawyer Recep Karaoğlu, resigned from his party after it was made public, via news reports, that he bought homes in Sulukule, further contributing to the large percent of rental properties. With his explanation speech after he resigned, Recep Karaoğlu called for the resignation of other party members who bought houses from Sulukule.


23 November 2007:

By the request of the “Sulukule platform”, “renewal council”, neighbourhood representatives and municipality representatives met. Municipal representatives wanted a coalition to solve the social problems that the project will create. Platform and neighbourhood representatives indicated willingness to form a shared coalition. Requests for a signed protocol were made, which would clarify the mission and responsibilities of the commission. The platform then presented the proposal to the municipality for review.


3 December 2007:

Sulukule project was discussed at the Fatih municipal assembly. AKP (Justice and Development Party) Assembly member, Koksal Ozer, characterized Sulukule residents as “(those) who have natural, inborn tendency for prostitution”.


4 December 2007:

Fatih Municipality organized a lottery for the apartments which were constructed by TOKI, at the area named Tasoluk. Tasoluk is thirty kilometers away from Sulukule. People who live and pay rent in Sulukule could put their names on the list for the homes in Tasoluk. After the first lottery, 204 renters from Sulukule receive an apartment in Tasoluk, accepting de facto to leave the historic peninsula. As for the remaining renters, Fatih municipality said there will be another lottery in the upcoming weeks.


Renters are going to be able to own the lottery apartments by paying between 275 YTL and 475 YTL every month, depending on size of the apartments, over a fifteen year period. Municipality notices the contracts will be ready in upcoming days, and renters will sign paperwork with the bank. The lottery revealed Fatih municipality intensions of moving renters from Sulukule. Renters currently compose nearly 2/3 of the neighbourhood.


7 December 2007:

At Zübeyde Hanım Culture Center, municipality and “Sulukule platform” met. “Renewal council” (created the law 5336) members, academics, “Sulukule association”, neighbourhood residents and Platform representatives attended, as well as AKP neighbourhood presidents from different areas of Fatih district.


A second association named “Neslisah neighbourhood association” had been created meanwhile, with the support of the Fatih municipality. Representatives of the new association criticized Roman culture in Sulukule during their opening speeches. They also spoke of helping third parties to buy houses from the neighbourhood. Fatih municipality did not sign the protocol offered by “Sulukule platform” that was offering partnership.


10 December 2007:

The first draft project confirmed by the “renewal board” has been put to vote and accepted by the Fatih municipality executive board


18 December 2007:

“Istanbul Chamber of Geology Engineers” office delivered a report about the geological situation of Sulukule. According to the report, the area does not have any risk of possible earthquakes and there is no need for prevention policies in the area. Yet possible earthquake danger for the neighbourhood was a reason for the municipality’s project.


26 December 2007:

TBMM (Turkish National Assembly) “Human Rights commission” had a meeting to discuss petitions of Sulukule residents. Fatih municipality, “Sulukule association”, platform representatives, Hatice Sultan Neighbourhood mukhtar, “Neslisah neighbourhood association”, and “Amasya Ormanonu village association” were invited to the meeting. However, complaints about residents of Sulukule were discussed more than complains of Sulukule residents. Hatice Sultan neighbourhood muhtar, “Neslisah neighbourhood association”, and “Amasya Ormanonu Village association” said there is prostitution and drug trade in the neighbourhood. They alleged that there is no such a thing called “culture” in Sulukule. President of the municipality explained the project.


31 December 2007:

“Sulukule association” and neighbourhood representatives formed lawsuits for the cancellation of the Sulukule renewal projetc.


January 2008 :

During the whole month, Fatih municipality called house owners in Sulukule to come to meeting and discuss issues which had not been resolved. Some house owners agreed with the district municipalty during this meeting on the purchase of apartments for a 15 year payment plan.


4 January 2008:

“Sulukule platform” applied for official registration to “renewal council” for the 85 houses that were categorized as civil engineering cultural heritage examples. In the project there were only 33 houses that were offered as cultural heritage examples.


8 January 2008:

Culture and Tourism minister, Ertuğrul Günay, answered Cetin Soysal’s proposition about the Sulukule project. He explained the neighbourhood will be reshaped; and that new houses were going to be examples of Ottoman engineering which were designed by university teachers.


18 January 2008:

TBMM Human Right commission decided that there is no human rights violation in Sulukule and closed the case. In protest, “Sulukule platform” published an article explaining their position.


30 January 2008:

UNESCO World Heritage Center Europe and North America Center President, Mechtild Rossler, stated that they defined 35 dangerous areas in Istanbul which they will monitor, their observations are intended to aid their later decision in July for World Heritage list.


Mechtild Rossler said to NTV television reporter that “There should be more projects regarding different cultural and historical neighbourhoods. For example: Sulukule, Beyoğlu and Süleymaniye. The purpose is not only to protect the history of the areas; it should also be for the integration of the people. The most important aspect is to bring social and economic integration and revival with the renewal of the areas”.


1st February 2008:

Demolition of the houses continued throughout the month. Forty houses were destroyed.


11 February 2008:

Fatih municipality demolished 9 houses, two were officially registered as examples of cultural heritage.


These are :

1.) Address : “Neslişah Mahallesi, Kaleboyu Caddesi No: 95

Ada : 2492

Parsel : 13”


2)Address : “Neslişah Mahallesi, Çınarlı Bostan Sok ile Kuru Çınar Sok.

Köşesindeki çeşmeye bitişik bina

Ada: 2489

Parsel: 26”


Members of “Sulukule platform” applied to court for officially registered cultural heritage examples demolition by Fatih municipality in 22nd of February, 2008. (Case No: 2008/4033).


February 2008 :

The whole month of February, Fatih municipality sent written notices to house owners to empty the houses until the end of March. In the notice there was no mention about renter’s rights; house owners were asked to remove the renters, otherwise they will loose their right to have an apartment in the project. Some house owners responded by stopping electricity and water to the renter’s apartments, in an effort to force them to move.


15 February 2008 :

-Call to sign contracts was made to those selected in lottery for apartments in Tasoluk. Banks requested 800-1300 YTL as stamp tax from the tenants. Proposed tenants were unable to pay the amount, thus no contracts were completed.


-Renters could not sign any contract to date. Future lotteries have not been organized after the last lottery on the fourth of December, the remaining renters continue to wait.


-There is a risk for the 75 remaining households (approximately 300-500 people) to stay on the street. The monthly income of the remaining families averages is 50-100 €.


15 February 2008 :

The mayor of Fatih announced 4 other “Urban Regeneration” projects in the historical peninsula : 1-Ayvansaray ; 2-Fener Balat ; 3-Yenikapi and Yedikule ; 4-Bulgur Palas and its neighbourhood.Sulukule is the first example of “renewal area” according the law 5366. Methods and the process of the following projects will be revised according the success and failures of the project taking place in Sulukule.



1. “En tant qu’habitants Rom de Sukule, au nombre de 3500 dans les quartiers de Neslişah et Hatice Sultan (703 propriétaires et 303 locataires), nous sommes confrontés depuis le mois de novembre 2005 à un projet de gentrification du quartier. Nous risquons de devoir quitter notre quartier historique vieux de mille ans, une fois nos maisons détruites par la municipalité (belediye) de Fatih pour un renouvellement du quartier dans son ensemble. Selon le projet en question, les habitants qui n’ont pas de titre de propriété sont forcés de quitter le quartier qu’ils habitent depuis des siècles. Sans revenu, sans logement, sans école, ils n’ont pas d’autre choix que de vivre dans la rue. Nous sommes Neslişah, nous sommes Hatice Sultan, nous sommes Sulukule, nous n’avons pas d’autre histoire ni d’autre endroit où loger. Si le belediye désire vraiment préserver cet endroit comme patrimoine historique, qu’il nous apporte alors un soutien financier et un encadrement par des ingénieurs et des architectes, pour que nous assurions l’entretien et la rénovation des maisons. Car nous aussi voulons embellir et consolider nos maisons. Par ailleurs, nous voudrions faire revivre Sulukule, pour que notre quartier contribue à la vie culturelle et au divertissement d’Istanbul, et offre des possibilités d’emploi aux jeunes et moins jeunes, aux femmes comme aux hommes

2. Panels, music workshops, drawing, music and dance courses for teenagers, exhibition, meetings and concerts.


Citer ce billet
oui (2008, 28 mars). Chronology of Sulukule. Observatoire Urbain d'Istanbul. Consulté le 23 avril 2024, à l’adresse

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