January 31, 2009
New Orleans In 2006 when the Organizers’ Forum delegation from the US and Canada visited Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey we spent several hours visiting with an organizer and a community organizing project among the Roma (gypsies) across the Bosporus Straits on the Asian side of Istanbul. The community was similar to many I have now seen among waste pickers in India, a combination of informal workers, squatted housing, refuse and rats, rugs being wasted by hoses in the street, and everything in the shadow of newly constructed high-rise apartment buildings. These communities were under constant pressure from accelerating development, though they might have existed in various forms and fashion for hundreds of years.
The organizer who visited with us and introduced us to leaders and others was Hacer Foggo. In a note that Judy Duncan, head organizer of ACORN Canada, and I received yesterday from Hacer she shared a very disconcerting, but powerful, report and some pictures which are included here.
I still fight and write for Roma rights.. I want to tell you what happened last week? Fatih Municipality destroyed Sulukule Children Center in the Sulukule Roma neighborhood 3 days ago. 40 children were worked art,music workshop, literacy workshop etc. The ancient neighbourhood of Sulukule an old settlement within the historical city limits of Constantinople is currently being destroyed. Roma have lived there since the Byzantine times, and are now being expelled from their homes to make way for new developments.
I took photos same day. I add for you.
The long odds for organizers working with the powerless around the world have not become any better. I could not have spoken more elegantly that she did here, and perhaps neither of us could have matched the weight of these pictures.