Forced to abandon their hometown 40 years ago due to PKK attacks, five families have returned to their village in the southeastern province of Şırnak after it was cleared of terrorism within the scope of the Interior Ministry’s “Return to Village and Rehabilitation Project.”
Many citizens in the region had to leave their homeland due to terrorist attacks that started in the 1980s, while some of the residents of the Mağara Village, where mostly Yazidis lived, immigrated to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
With several regions in Şırnak being cleared of terrorism, the ministry and the governor’s office contacted the residents of the 99-house Mağara village, encouraging them to return to their homeland.
In the first phase, five families accepted the invitation, while restoration, road, electricity, drinking water and sewage infrastructure works are being carried out in the village without damaging its historical texture and cultural value.
Due to the village’s rich history and cultural significance, new constructions are not allowed.
Those wishing to build new houses will be offered a new area nearby, where construction is allowed according to zoning regulations.
Providing information about the history of the village and the ongoing efforts following some residents’ return, Şırnak Governor Osman Bilgin noted that settlements in this region began 10,000 years before Europe.
“These lands are important for Şırnak and for humanity as it is the birthplace of civilization in Mesopotamia, where humanity adopted a settled lifestyle,” Bilgin said.
“Our Yazidi citizens will continue their lives here. Our Assyrian citizens live in the village of Haberli right next to us, and our Muslim citizens live in the town of Karalar next to it. Every religion lives freely here. We want our citizens in Anatolia to return and embrace their villages.”
Bilgin also stated that they would initiate restoration works for the historical houses in the village and called on other former residents to return and revive life, tourism and history, bridging the gap between the past and the future.
Stating that there are 47 closed villages in the city, 31 of which are currently being made suitable for settlement, Bilgin announced that they will soon begin work on the remaining abandoned villages.
“When we lose a relative in Germany, we bury them here. This is our village, this is our land, we will love it. When I came here, I felt as if I was born again,” said Gazel Genç, a resident who immigrated to Germany in the 1980s.