Conservation area is an area where those living there cannot hammer even one nail. And a natural wonder used without damaging the natural beauties. These are areas prohibited by the government. And the name given to the area preserving the sites inhabited by ancient civilizations. Government named this areas as conservation areas for the people’s who visit there. There are many inns that can be found under these houses that you can’t see. However, you can see ones over the mountains. That is because these areas called the conservation areas.
Conservation area is the name given to areas prohibited by the government, and the word used for preservation of cultural heritage, and the name given to and regions that need to be conserved. If I would describe the conservation area, this is the name given to the rocky parts from the entrance of our town to its exit. Places where building is not permitted. Its description in our eyes is a prohibited area and an area where the Ministry of Tourism is the only authority.
Areas and places reflecting the social, economic, architectural and many other characters of civilizations of centuries ago, remains of cities built by various civilizations that existed in the prehistoric times up until the present day, where invaluably important historical events took place and which should be conserved with their recorded natural characteristics. A geography where history emerges from under its soils, with thousands of magnificent attractions all around.
When you excavate a site to build a house or in any road work, the high chance of encountering any Roman period or remains dating back to the 1200’s B.C. creates excitement on the one hand and highly increases the responsibilities on the other. Having and protecting a heritage of such a diversity. This is where the real problem starts. An antiquity town full of grave chambers, churches, Maltaş monuments and many other artifacts in the middle of the Phrygian valley: Ayazini. Meanwhile, Ayazini is a village in the district of Ihsaniye, Afyonkarahisar Province, Turkey.
The moment they were informed that the houses they lived throughout their lives, raised their children, worked in their gardens was in fact built over a historical pattern corresponded to the day when they were officially banned from belonging to their homes and owning their homes. The church they saw from their windows and the presence of the mausoleum dating back to thousands of years in their stairwell now transformed their lives into an exile in their own homes.
Now the history took control of their houses. Civilizations dating back to thousands of years time-travelled and drove the 21st century man into the corner. This is where the problem starts for those with nowhere to go, because they are unable to repair their roofs which are about to collapse, replace the rotten water pipes and even paint their houses; they are prohibited from improving their living quarter. The household’s freedom is sacrificed to the slavery of history.
Let’s listen to what the villagers have to say.
“I don’t know why this area was announced as a conservation area. We do not know who lived on this land in the past. My father is 90 years old, and even he doesn’t know who built our house. Many civilizations have lived in and are now bygone from this land; Hittites, Phrygians, Byzantines, Seljuk, Ottomans. Hittites and Phrygians lived here before us. My family migrated here from Central Asia.”
“There are historical pieces in this region the Byzantines, Romans and Hittites. Now the community is more conscious and we try to conserve the area too. Conservation of our old historical assets means everything to us. Three civilizations lived here in ancient times, leaving many historical items, but we are unable to look after them, we are not financially strong. Our community lives both in a cultural richness and misery, because we are unable to make any renovations on the conservation areas.”
“We can’t repair our houses, besides we have no roads and no water network connected. In short, we are deprived of everything. Our houses are nearly collapsed, we are not permitted to do any repairs. “You are not permitted to repair your houses”, said the officials. We are prohibited from doing repairs, and we are prohibited from doing everything with the fear that we might cause damage on the historical works.”
“Even the slightest repair is prohibited even if my house nearly goes into a state of collapse. On the other hand I have got one kid and we are three member family. Also we live in two room house. Because government doesn’t give us any houses or I haven’t got any title deed I have to live in this houses. We are unable to do any repairs as all are prohibited. Because this neighborhood is a 2nd degree conservation area, we are unable to make any repairs on our house although we have one.”
“I am not entitled even if my roof is dripping. I am not authorized to demolish and rebuild it as this is prohibited. We are not permitted to any modifications as this is a conservation area. It is difficult to live here from all aspects. In this areas, as the mayor even we cannot do city planning activities neither in underground nor overground. Also we cannot give much governmental services to our citizens. Our pavements, sewages, water works couldn’t be repaired or renewed.”
“Because the water especially is one of the main requirements for people, without this services is unbearable. When a part of our house collapses, we’re unable to repair it, so this causes stress. Even the slightest repair work requires a permission, which sometimes takes years to have. We have no title deeds, so if the government orders us to leave tomorrow, we have nowhere to go. Because half of the village is forest and the other half is conservation area.”
“I filed in a petition 2 years ago with the Directorate of Historical Monuments and Museums, Ministry of Culture because of a threatening damage in my house. They replied me with a letter, telling me to evacuate the back of my house and take emergency measures. I went to the governor’s office and to the district governor’s office thereafter, they told me they could do nothing and I am still obliged to live in the same house.”
“You have to go to the museum and get permission for repairs. If we want do repairs, first we are required to get permissions from many authorities and we can do the repair only if we can get the permissions. To make sure my house will not collapse, I am trying to keep it standing by putting pieces of wood in ready-to-collapse parts of the house.”
“I have 40 decares land on my own priority but all of that in conservation area. When I go to the governmental people to get required papers to build my house they told me that my house is also within conservation area. Then where we will do our houses? We are required to obtain permission from the museum for small repair work. And the museum refrains from giving such permissions easily.”
“We are stuck in between on one side the forest and on the other the conservation area, with nowhere to go. We will have to live in tents if they order us out. There was a fountain we used to water our animals in the conservation area above here, we are unable to water our animals because a rock fell over it. We will do whatever the government orders, we should leave here if they order us to leave. We will leave if the government tells us to leave, we will go to any place we are ordered to go, if it allocates us no places to go, that’s bad luck. We have nothing to do.”
As you can see that is what the villagers says. Laws, never-ending paperwork, there remains no choice but returning to their towns, the only way out shown by the government agencies, for the people of Ayazini, desperately staring at the signs giving them no hope. Their lives are neither improved, nor are shown somewhere to go; most remaining in between the pressure of being a foreigner to their houses they knew as their homes since their grandparents, living on the conservation area, and staying side by side and without moving with the untouchable. The situation they are in, day by day, pushes them away from the living quarters they belong to.
Now let’s listen to what the villagers has to say, again.
“Now I have 7 children, 5 daughters, they are married. If my daughters wish to get anything from me, they cannot because I have got nothing. Today 80% of Turkey has a civil life but we still maintain the life of 60 years before. We would also like to live in a house with a garden or a pool but we were born here and we are obliged to live here. These are the places that we have to live. We also want to live in better places as I said.”
“We are not able to make any modifications. Also we have sewage and road problems. That this area is a conservation site prevents us from building. Transfer of this area to another place would be very good both for the tourists and us. It would be fine to have a house with two living rooms but we cannot afford under these conditions. I would accept if someone showed me a place and built my house, I am in no position to build a house after this age. If one comes up and says “you are sitting on the treasury land, evacuate”, we have no place to go.”
“This country have an empty treasure lands that is suitable for confiscation. If the government says “We will take out the natural beauties, and advertise this area to whole world but you have to empty this area”. I will remove debris of this area by myself. Most of the people in this area would accept the offer that gives us another houses for our old ones and also help to executing process of government. We are unable to make any developmental expansion as we are stuck in between the conservation area on the right and the forest on the left.”
“We have a crescent and star title deed written in old letters. There is no title deed where we live. They don’t give us title deed because of conservation area. Not just I lived, my grandfather or even our elders lived here, maybe more than 700 years now on. But they don’t give us title deed. Our left is forest and right is conservation area, so we have no places to build houses.”
“My house in the conservation area is from my grandfather and I live in it with my father. We have a house in the conservation area, I have the usufruct rights but the government gives me no title deed. Places we are living in belongs to the government, they belong us but not.”
Anyway, we have listened carefully to them and as a result, everything around changes by time. The only thing that remains the same is the inertness of living in the conservation area. If this goes on like this, it seems that neither the town’s people not its future will be different from its past. The only untouchable truth is misery for those living in Ayazini, who watch the visitors virtually from within a glass aquarium right beside the historical works that are so highly precious for the world history, this country and for local people and foreign tourists.