Police backed by riot squad raid communal house in Istanbul

Police backed by riot squad raid communal house in Istanbul

Police backed by riot squad raid communal house in Istanbul

A woman dances in front of riot police to protest the eviction of the communal house. AFP Photo / OZAN KÖSE

Istanbul police staged a morning raid on the Caferağa Neighborhood House in the city’s Kadıköy district on Dec. 9, emptying the communal facility’s library and confiscating possessions.

The raid sparked anger among local residents, who staged a protest against the action outside the house, which was first occupied 18 months ago before being converted into a communal neighborhood space.

“They’ve removed our tea stand, scattered our library, and the sounds of electric saws were coming from our communal kitchen,” the house’s Twitter feed said. “We’ve established [the house] hand in hand, let’s protect it shoulder to shoulder.”

Authorities have demanded that the house, which was originally unoccupied, be evacuated because it officially belongs to the Treasury.

Police blocked access to the site on Hacı Şükrü Street with riot police to prevent residents from attempting to defend the house.

Gathering at the police barricade, neighborhood residents shouted “Neighborhood House against the palaces,” in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s "Ak Saray," the true cost of which has been withheld by the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) as “it could negatively affect the economy.”

Residents also resorted to banging pots and pans to protest the police's move in Caferağa, as others played music in front of the rows of riot police.

After the departure of the police, residents entered the building to find it emptied of its contents and with various posters ripped down.

Caferağa Solidarity, a park forum established in the wake of last year’s Gezi protests that coordinated activities at the house, issued a statement on Dec. 5, warning of a possible police attack.

“We’ve heard that at some point, they’re going to come and close our open door. The tyrants who have sworn an oath to sell everything that is nice and lives, as well as every [drop of] water, every tree and every bit of shade are going to try and prise our house from our hands. But we will not so easily forgo our dreams and the things that we have created together,” it said.

The house has played host to forums and various workshops, while providing a common place for neighborhood residents to cook and eat communally. It also features a library, a carpenter’s shop, a dark room and a swap area.