Source: “Beyoğlu Emniyet Müdürü: Dur daha nereleri kapatacağım” (“Beyoğlu Chief of Police: Wait and See What Else I Will Shut Down”) Muhalif Gazete, 6 May 2014, http://www.muhalifgazete.com/haber/99014/beyoglu-emniyet-muduru-daha-dur-nereleri-kapatacagim.html
Daracık Street in the Beyoğlu District of Istanbul, where a trans individual was murdered two weeks ago, is once again in the spotlight; this time due to claims of forcible “shut-downs.”
Istanbul Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transvestite Transsexual Solidarity Association (Istanbul LGBTT) has claimed that building doors in the street where trans individuals were staying have been welded shut. Beyoğlu District Chief of Police, Ünal Altıner, has denied the claim; whereas Director of Municipal Police, Ahmet Öztürk, disclosed that the Beyoğlu Police already had a request for unoccupied buildings to be closed down and that they were acting on that request.
Murder on Daracık Street
On the night of April 20th, gunshots were heard on Daracık Street. Çağla Joker and her friend, Nalan, were shot by the 17-year-old H.T.; Çağla was killed and Nalan was badly wounded. The murder suspect, H.T., was soon caught and arrested. The building, in which the murder was committed, was sealed shut.
Joint Operation Two Weeks Later
Approximately two weeks later, the Beyoğlu Police and Municipal Police Departments started to act on abandoned and rundown buildings located on Daracık Street. According to Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet’s reporter, Kazım Ataer, property owners’ demands and the murder were the catalyst for the shutdowns.
Beyoğlu Chief of Police: “The Property Owner Got the Welding Done”
Beyoğlu Chief of Police, Altıner, made the following statement on the subject: “I am only tidying up the area.” Altıner, who says that they have only cleared and shut down three buildings so far, went on: “If we had not gone ahead and clamped down on the subject, those buildings would crumble. We cleared all of them. The property owners called their lawyers. They declared that they [the people staying there] did not have any lease or tenancy agreements. We also shut down and sealed a coffee-house in the same place. I am only tidying up the area. I am not shutting down a workplace or residence of a person illegally. And it was the property owner who got the welding done on the doors.”
“Not the only place…”
“We have an ongoing effort towards rundown and abandoned buildings in many areas, not only in Daracık Street. There was another abandoned building in Dolmabahçe, for instance, squatted by paint thinner sniffers, which we sealed and shut down. “
“We were only able to enter with masks”
We were only able to enter the mentioned buildings with our breathing masks on. There are drug dealers and paint thinner sniffers inside the buildings. I saw two women, I asked ‘are you tenants?’ and they answered ‘it was empty so we came in.’ After the murder, the property owners submitted petitions to secure their assets.
“Wait and see what else I will close down.”
“There are drugs being sold there, murders being committed. And when police intervene, they criticize Chief Ünal saying he did this and that. Our intention is to secure these places. If there is an abandoned building here, I will shut it down. Wait and see what else I will shut down.”
Chief of Municipal Police: “Only empty buildings were shut down.”
Beyoğlu Municipal Police Chief Ahmet Öztürk stated that the police only asked for their help for the evacuation of the rundown and abandoned buildings. Reporting that the murder caused all property owners to submit petitions to the Municipality, Öztürk explained that the police were working in coordination with the municipal police on the issue.