Land grabbing and privatization in Kurdistan

The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning has put well over a hundred fields in the Van, Şirnak and Hakkari up for sale. The population should either buy their own land or lose it.

In search of a solution to the economic crisis in Turkey, the AKP government confiscates public land in the Kurdish provinces of Van, Şırnak and Hakkari and puts it up for auction. Contrary to what the regime claims, this land is not lying fallow, but is used collectively by the rural population. The affected fields are 73 in Erçiş, four in Cizre and Şirnak and 96 in Yüksekova.

The land areas are to be auctioned to real or legal persons. These people can make 25 percent of the payments in advance and pay off the remaining money in instalments over the next 24 months. The profit from the sale of the land should go for the "restructuring" of the places. Restructuring in Kurdistan means above all militarization and the construction of new building blocks in order to erode the traditional, collective way of life of the people. The cynical calculation is that people should buy their own fields and thus finance their being closed in new building blocks that they do not want.

The stealing of the land that is used by the population and its privatization are causing violent conflicts between the future buyers and the village population.

“If the people in the village cannot afford the field, it is sold to outsiders,” said villagers. “This is about making our common fields available to one person. They want to sell us our own fields. We do not want any new construction projects, we have been cultivating these fields together and alternately for years anyway. We will not take part in the auctions, we are against this sale."