TURKEY: Disastrous construction project in historic city center of Mardin criticized by Syriac MP

MARDIN, Turkey – Syriac Member of Turkish Parliament for Mardin Tuma Çelik has raised the matter of a major construction project around Mardin’s main street in Turkish parliament. Resident complain the construction of a multistorey building, which started in 2016, will ruin the urban landscape and Mardin’s monumental and historical city center. The construction of a car park, shopping mall, and office buildings continues despite expert and residents’ complaints.

It is even continuing after Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Murat Kurum visited Mardin last month and, after expressing his outrage, ordered the downscaling of the construction project. However, no adjustments have been made to the project so far.

The multistorey construction is being built right next to the Syriac Mor Ephrem church. It is unknown whether the construction damaged the foundations of the historical church building.

Syriac MP Tuma Çelik has now asked written questions to Minister Kurum, stating in his introduction that, “it was announced that the project would initially only involve a multistorey car park and some municipal facilities. Later on, a shopping mall and office buildings were added to the project. Experts have stated that the building in question will distort the landscape of the city’s historical center. Furthermore, the ongoing construction caused cracks in the road surface in the project area, after which the road was closed for traffic. It is still closed. Accusations have been made in the press against the construction company wanting to make changes to the road, but could not obtain the necessary permissions from the municipality.”

MP Çelik asked the following questions in writing to Minister Kurum:

  • Has a study been initiated on prevention of damage caused to the historical city by this construction project?
  • Have all necessary permissions been obtained by the construction company to make later additions to the project? If so, on what basis were these permissions given?
  • Have any legal steps been taken against the transactions considered to be illegal in this ongoing construction project – as also expressed by Mr. Murat Kurum himself?
  • Was there an investigation whether or not the Mor Ephrem Church was damaged during the construction? If so, will the results be shared with the public?
  • Does your Minister know about the damaged road leading to the historic main street? Has any investigation been done on the damage?

Originally published in Turkish on August 16, 2021, by Gazete Sabro