DIYARBAKIR (Radikal)–The municipal assembly of Diyarbakir’s Sur district has decided to change the names of three streets to honor Armenian and Syriac authors who used to live on those routes.
In a Dec. 9 session, the council decided to rename Direkci Street in the Hasirli neighborhood and give it the name of Armenian author Mgrdich Margosyan. They also decided to name Pasucu 1st Street in the Ziya Gokalp neighborhood after Syriac author Naum Faik Palak and Yagcı Street in Fatih neighborhood after Ahmet Arif.
Sur Mayor Abdullah Demirbas said the most fundamental reason for changing the streets’ names was to recognize the importance of artistic people from the largely Kurdish region of Diyarbakir.
The mayor said Arif was a well-known poet and that the council would pay homage to his memory by renaming the street on which he was born.
Demirbas said the renaming project promoted the city’s values. “Margosyan contributed a lot to the promotion of Diyarbakir with his books. He was also a member of the Armenian community in Diyarbakır and represented a different cultural heritage.”
He said giving the name to such a world-renowned author would be a fitting tribute to the writer. “In a similar fashion, Palak is one of the important names in our literature. He was a Syriac who died in America. We again gave his name to the street where he was born.”
“Promoting the values of Diyarbakir as such demonstrates the peaceful harmony of the different cultures, identities and religions existing here,” said Demirbas. “Peace, democracy and fraternity are what we have needed most in recently. In a sense, we want to announce this to all of Turkey once again through the streets of Diyarbakir.”
Demirbas said they informed the local district governorate about the council’s decision. “The Sur District Governorate [only] accepted two of the names we offered. They said they relayed Palak’s name to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to determine whether he was a Turkish citizen or not,” Demirbas said.
“We do not approve of this because there are many streets, avenues and buildings in Turkey that are named after non-Turkish citizens,” the mayor said.