18 november 2018

Central Asia news

'Go wherever you want.' Tashkent City project evicts people

18.12.2017 11:08 msk

Fergana

Human Rights Business Uzbekistan

On photo: the demolition of the building of the former district police on the street of Uzbekistan

On 11 December, the man, who introduced himself as the hokim (head of the administration) of the Shaykhantohur district, met with the tenants of three houses on Tashkent street on the site where the authorities plan to construct the pompous "Tashkent City" business complex. The official, in the company of other municipal staff, has announced that the residents are categorically obliged to vacate the housing in a ten-day period since the buildings around are already being demolished.

On the questions of people, what should they do now and where to go, the answer, in its essence was: "We are not interested, go wherever you want." These words sounded if the tenants do not leave within ten days, they would be forcibly evicted by a court decision involving law enforcement. Given the sad experience of past years, there is no doubt about this perspective.

People are confused and frightened. But it seems the officials care little for the problems of internally displaced persons, including many children, sick and old people.

At once, our editorial office has already received several letters and calls from the distressed residents residing in the demolished district. Correspondents left for the place. However, the Tashkent residents strongly asked not to reveal their real names at all - they had been already threatened.

The first house set for demolition within ten days is number 10. The authorities promise the residents of the building who agree to move immediately to settle them in flats of the secondary housing market, and not in new homes, as they had announced initially.

"The day before last Sunday we had the electricity supply cut off until 23:00 o'clock, we had no light at all. Children could not even do their homework. Yesterday, on 11 December, the heating was turned off, as our pipes pass through the [former] district police building (which has now almost been demolished to the ground) and connected again at 21:00 o'clock. And then, if we had not called and required troubleshooting," we would have waited for no reconnection actions, told the tenants of one of the "doomed houses" to Fergana News on 12 December.

Police detained independent journalist Sid Yanyshev (Said Abdurakhimov) when he was talking to the residents of the houses planned to be demolished on 12 December. The only condition for his release was "voluntary" removal of all materials from his camera and voice recorder.

People remember what they had been said during the heat cut-off: "Get used [to it], now it will be like this, you can complain wherever you want."

It should be noted that the authorities provide no transportation or financial assistance for removals, but immediately warned to take belongings at the expense of the residents. Employed workers have not been provided with additional compensatory time off, even those who have small children.

The rumours are circulating among the residents that those who do not agree to move immediately and ready to wait, could also be given two-room flats of 60 square metres but in a new building and with a bigger space - 72 square metres.

At the meeting with the tenants, the officials have already demonstrated brightly decorated advertising flyers with images of future houses for new settlers. However, new homes would be completed later than in a year (even if not to take into account finishing decorations).

"We were told about the impending demolition four years ago for the first time when we were suddenly stopped to continue with registration and sale," one of the tenants said. "A year ago, on 28 December, local state registry officials demanded the residents to show their documents on the flats.

"By the way, this summer, in August, they came again and repeatedly demanded the same documents. And now in December this year, it all revolves: on the 11th [December] the general meeting of the tenants of the demolished houses was held in the building of the new conservatory (it is nearby), where we were informed in a take-it-or-leave-it way about the terms of the forthcoming demolition. Moreover, the officials spoke exclusively in the Uzbek language - the neighbours interpreted to the Russian-speaking people. We never signed any documents on this matter, and we did not receive any official notification, as there were no written warnings."

During all this time, as the Fergana News interlocutors say, only two meetings took place. The municipal officials just notified the residents of the impending demolition specifying no details.

"At the first meeting, it was said that everyone would be given new flats, based on existing standards, 18 square metres per person. And, of course, they promised compensation, although they did not name a specific amount. And already at the second meeting told about the compensation of 11 million soms [about $ 1,350]: it seems that the district authorities promised that new houses would be built by May, and until then hokimiyat (the administration) will allocate money for rented housing. But people are worried about how to deal with schools and nurseries? What if to move to another area in the middle of the year?"

And here's another resident of the demolished district: "The issue of compensation will be solved 'next year,' and it is necessary to leave the flat before 20 December, while after [the deadline] they threaten to evict them by the police. [The authorities] provide no temporary housing! They said they would issue a 'guarantee letter,' but only to those who submit all the old housing documents and keys. A letter even has no seal; supposedly it will secure a flat next year! In the mahallah, there are about three thousand people, which means the need is more than a thousand flats. The price of the issue is tens of millions of dollars. There are not so many shacks in reserve, and even a fifth of all destitute people will not fit in the constructed houses, but these homes will be ready next summer at best. [The authorities], it seems, just want to disperse the rest."

Fergana News Agency