Istanbul municipality prepares to evacuate city’s first squat house used as social center
The squat house in Kadıköy is also known as the 'Don Quixote.'Istanbul’s first squat house, which was converted into a social meeting center by activists following last year’s Gezi Park protests, is under threat of evacuation, according to a civil solidarity group.
The derelict and previously disused building, which is located in the Kadıköy district on the Asian side of the city, was repaired and remodeled by activists and members of neighborhood solidarity groups that emerged after the park forums during the nationwide Gezi protests.
Also known as the “Don Quixote,” inspired by the rebellious and idealistic temperament of the Spanish knight, the squat house was home to a number of social activities, ranging from exhibitions to forums, concerts, artistic activities and even yoga classes. The house was also used as a barter market, a library and an open café, becoming an experimental place for boosting neighborhood solidarity and enhancing the community.
The Caferağa Solidarity group announced on Dec. 4 that the occupiers had received a summons to evacuate the squat house by Dec. 5, and called on people to demonstrate in front of the building.
“This is a house open to everyone in our neighborhood. A place that we opened when it was an abandoned and empty building, which became somewhere where anyone can come to sit and relax, engaging in deep conversations while sipping their tea,” the group said in its statement.
“It has been brought into existence thanks to the contribution of thousands of people … But we have been hearing for a while that [the authorities] will come to close the door. Those who have promised to sell every beautiful thing, all the water, the trees and the shadows will try to seize our house. Of course, we won’t give up on our dreams, nor all that we have accumulated here,” it added.
Activist Gözde Kalyoncu said officials argued that the building was “public property” and was owned by the Treasury. “But our activities, all that we have created here, can be accepted as a ‘public service.’ This is a space without any commercial purpose, based on solidarity and helping,” she said.
Kalyoncu said if the municipality resorts to force to evacuate the building, the group will move on to find new places as alternatives to the “Don Quixote.”
“We are a community that is getting closer [to each other] every day,” she added.