Diyarbakır

Diyarbakır (Kurdish: Amed, Arabic: ديار بكر‎, Armenian: Տիգրանակերտ, romanizedTigranakert, Syriac: ܐܡܝܕܐ‎, romanizedAmida)[2][3][4] is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey and is often considered the unofficial capital of Northern Kurdistan.[2][5][7][8][9] Situated on the banks of the Tigris River, it is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province. It is the third-largest city in Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia Region, after Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep.

It has been a focal point of the conflict between the Turkish state and various Kurdish insurgent groups.

The name Diyarbakır (Arabic: دیار بکر‎, Diyaru Bakr, which means the Land of Bakir; Armenian: Տիգրանակերտ, Tigranakert;[10] Ancient Greek: Άμιδα, Amida; Ottoman Turkish: دیاربکر‎, Diyâr-ı Bekr; Syriac: ܐܡܝܕ‎) is inscribed as Amed on the sheath of a sword from the Assyrian period, and the same name was used in other contemporary Syriac and Arabic works.[11] The Romans and Byzantines called the city Amida.[11] Another medieval use of the term as Amit is found in Empire of Trebizond official documents in 1358.[12] Among the Artukid and Akkoyunlu it was known as "Black Amid" (Kara Amid) for the dark color of its walls, while in the Zafername, or eulogies in praise of military victories, it is called "Black Fortress" (Kara Kale).[11] In the Book of Dede Korkut and some other Turkish works it appears as Kara Hamid.[11]

Following the Arab conquests in the seventh century, the Arab Bakr tribe settled in this region,[11] which became known as the Diyar Bakr ("landholdings of the Bakr tribe", in Arabic: ديار بكر‎, Diyar Bakr).[13][14] In 1937, Atatürk visited Diyarbakir and, after expressing uncertainty on the exact etymology of the city, ordered that it be renamed "Diyarbakır", which means "land of copper" in Turkish after the abundant resources of copper around the city.[15]

16th century plan of Diyarbakır by Matrakci Nasuh. The eastern half of the walled city depicted here (Sur) was leveled in 2015–2016 during the Kurdish–Turkish conflict. The western half is currently (2017) being demolished.

The earliest reference to the city comes from Assyrian records which identify it as being the capital of the Aramean kingdom of Bit-Zamani (c. 1300 BC). In the ninth century BC, the city joined a rebellion against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. The city was later reduced to being a province of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

From 189 BCE to 387 CE, the region to the east and south of present Diyarbakır came under the rule of Greater Armenia and was part of Korchayk province (ashkhar).

Later, the Romans colonized the city and named it Amida, after the earlier name Amid. During the Roman rule, the first city walls were constructed in 297. Later, the greater walls were built as per the command of the Roman emperor Constantius II. The Romans were succeeded by the Muslim Arabs. It was the leader of the Arab Bekr tribe, Bekr Bin Vail, who named the city Diyar Bakr, meaning "the country of Bakr", i.e. Arabs.

After a few centuries, Diyarbakır came under the Ottoman Empire and earned the status of the capital of a large province. The city became the base of army troops who guarded the region against Persian invasion. Diyarbakır faced turbulence in the 20th century, particularly with the onset of World War I. The majority of the city's Assyrian and Armenian population were massacred and deported during the Assyrian Genocide & Armenian Genocide in 1915. In 1925, armed Kurdish groups rose in the Sheikh Said rebellion against the newly established secular government of the Republic of Turkey with the aim to revive the Islamic caliphate and sultanate, but were defeated by Turkish forces.

The area around Diyarbakır has been inhabited by humans from the stone age with tools from that period having been discovered in the nearby Hilar cave complex. The pre-pottery neolithic B settlement of Çayönü dates to over 10,000 years ago and its excavated remains are on display at the Diyarbakır Museum. Another important site is Girikihaciyan Tumulus in Eğil.[16]

The first major civilization to establish themselves in the region of what is now Diyarbakır were the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni. The city was first mentioned by Assyrian texts as the capital of a Semitic kingdom. It was then ruled by a succession of nearly every polity that controlled Upper Mesopotamia, including the Arameans, Assyrians, Urartu, Armenians, Achaemenid Persians, Medes, Seleucids, and Parthians.[17] The Roman Republic gained control of the city in 66 BC, by which stage it was named "Amida".[18] In 359, Shapur II of Persia captured Amida after a siege of 73 days which is vividly described by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.[19]

Syriac Christianity took hold in the region between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, particularly amongst the Assyrians of the city. The earliest documented bishop of Amida was Simeon of the Assyrian Church of the East, who took part in the First Council of Nicaea in 325, on behalf of the Assyrians. Maras was at the First Council of Constantinople in 381. In the next century, Saint Acacius of Amida (who died in 425, and is included in the Roman Martyrology[20]) was noted for having sold the church's gold and silver vessels to ransom and assist Persian prisoners of war.

Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II (408–450) divided the Roman province of Mesopotamia into two, and made Amida the capital of Mesopotamia Prima, and thereby also the metropolitan see for all the province's bishoprics.[21] A 6th-century Notitia Episcopatuum indicates as suffragans of Amida the sees of Martyropolis, Ingila, Belabitene, Arsamosata, Sophene, Kitharis, Cefa, and Zeugma.[22] The Annuario Pontificio adds Bethzabda and Dadima.

The names of several of the successors of Acacius are known, but their orthodoxy is unclear. The last whose orthodoxy is certain is Cyriacus, a participant in the Second Council of Constantinople (553). Many bishops of the Byzantine Empire fled in the face of the Persian invasion of the early 7th century, with a resultant spread of the Jacobite Church, Michael the Syrian gives a list of Jacobite bishops of Amida down to the 13th century.[23]

At some stage, Amida became a see of the Armenian Christians. The bishops who held the see in 1650 and 1681 were in communion with the Holy See, and in 1727 Peter Derboghossian sent his profession of faith to Rome. He was succeeded by two more Catholic Armenians, Eugenius and Ioannes of Smyrna, the latter of whom died in Constantinople in 1785. After a long vacancy, three more bishops followed. The diocese had some 5,000 Armenian Catholics in 1903,[26] but it lost most of its population in the Armenian Genocide. The last diocesan bishop of the see, Andreas Elias Celebian, was killed with some 600 of his faithful in the summer of 1915.[27][28][29][30]

An eparchy for the local members of the Syriac Catholic Church was established in 1862. Ignatius Philip I Arkus, who was its first bishop, was elected patriarch in 1866, he kept the governance of the see of Amida, which he exercised through a patriarchal vicar. The eparchy was united to that of Mardin in 1888. Persecution in Turkey during the First World War brought an end to the existence of both these Syrian residential sees.[27][28][31][32]

However, in 1966 a Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy with jurisdiction over all Chaldean Catholic Turks was revived in Diyarbakır, with the city being as episcopal see and location of the diocesan main Cathedral.

As of 2015, there are two Chaldean Churches, and three Armenian churches in at least periodic operation. Three other churches are in ruins, all Armenian: one outside Sur district, one in it, and one in the citadel that is now part of a museum complex.

No longer a residential bishopric until 1966 (Chaldean rite), Amida is today listed by the Catholic Church as a multiple titular see,[33] separately for the Latin Roman Rite and two Eastern Catholic particular churches sui iuris.

Amida of the Romans was suppressed in 1970, having had many archiepiscopal incumbents with a singular episcopal exception :

The diocese of Amida, in 1650, was suppressed in 1972 and immediately nominally restored as Armenian Catholic (Armenian Rite and language) titular bishopric of the lowest (episcopal) rank, Amida of the Armenians.

So far, it has had the following incumbents, of the fitting episcopal rank with an archiepiscopal exception:

Established in 1963 as Titular archbishopric of the highest (Metropolitan) rank, Amida of the Syriacs.

It has been vacant for decades, having had the following incumbent of Metropolitan rank;

In 639, the city was captured by the Muslim conquests, and introduced the religion of Islam. The city passed under Umayyad and then Abbasid control, but with the progressive fragmentation of the Abbasid Caliphate from the late 9th century, it periodically came under the rule of autonomous dynasties. Isa ibn al-Shaykh al-Shaybani and his descendants ruled the city and the wider Diyar Bakr from 871 until 899, when Caliph al-Mu'tadid restored Abbasid control, but the area soon passed to another local dynasty, the Hamdanids. The latter were displaced by the Buyids in 978, who were in turn followed by the Marwanids a few years later. The Marwanids ruled until after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, when the city came under the rule of the Mardin branch of the Oghuz Turks and then the Anatolian beylik of the Artuqids. The whole area was then disputed between the Ilkhanate and Ayyubid dynasties for a century, after which it was taken over by the competing Turkic federations of the Kara Koyunlu (the Black Sheep) first and then the Aq Qoyunlu until the rise of the Persian Safavids, who naturally took over the city and the wider region.

During Ottoman rule, the government began to assert its authority in the region in the early 19th century. Concerned with independent-mindedness of Kurdish principalities, Ottomans sought to curb their influence and bring them under the control of the central government in Constantinople. However, removal from power of these hereditary principalities led to more instability in the region from the 1840s onwards. In their place, sufi sheiks and religious orders rose to prominence and spread their influence throughout the region. One of the prominent Sufi leaders was Shaikh Ubaidalla Nahri, who began a revolt in the region between Lakes Van and Urmia. The area under his control covered both Ottoman and Qajar territories. Shaikh Ubaidalla is regarded as one of the earliest leaders who pursued modern nationalist ideas among Kurds. In a letter to a British Vice-Consul, he declared: The breakup of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in the First World War led to its dismemberment and establishment of the present-day political boundaries, dividing the Kurdish-inhabited regions between several newly created states. The establishment and enforcement of the new borders had profound effects for the Kurds, who had to abandon their traditional nomadism for village life and settled farming.

the Kurdish nation is a people apart... we want our affairs to be in our hands'.'
This 17th-century map detail shows Diyarbakır (west at top). From a 17th-century Ottoman map of the Tigris and Euphrates that may have been created by Evliya Çelebi.

Between the early 16th century and mid-to late 17th century the city and the much wider Eastern Anatolia region (comprising Eastern Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia) was being heavily competed between the rivalling Safavids and the Ottoman Turks, being passed on numerous times between the two archrivals. When it was firstly conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century by the campaigns of Bıyıklı Mehmet Paşa under the rule of Sultan Selim I following the Battle of Chaldiran, they established an eyelet with its centre in Diyarbakır. The Ottoman eyelet of Diyarbakır corresponded to Turkey's southeastern provinces today, a rectangular area between the Lake Urmia to Palu and from the southern shores of Lake Van to Cizre and the beginnings of the Syrian desert, although its borders saw some changes over time. The city was an important military base for controlling this region and at the same time a thriving city noted for its craftsmen, producing glass and metalwork. For example, the doors of Mevlana's tomb in Konya were made in Diyarbakır, as were the gold and silver decorated doors of the tomb of Imam-i Azam Ebu Hanife in Baghdad. Ottoman rule was confirmed by the Peace of Amasya of 1555 which followed after the Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–1555). However, a recapture of the city followed by Safavid Persia, ruled by shah Abbas I, during the Ottoman-Safavid War (1603–1618). Diyarbakır was retaken by the Safavids once again in 1623-1624, during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–1639).[34]

In 1895 an estimated 25,000 Armenians and Assyrians were massacred in Diyarbakır vilayet, including the city.[35] At the turn of the 19th century, the Christian population of the city was mainly made up of Armenians and Syriac Orthodox Christians.[36] The city was also a site of ethnic cleansing of Armenians and Assyrians in 1915; nearly 150,000 were deported from the city.[37]

A typical example of Diyarbakır's historic architectural style, with masonry tiles built of the city's indigenous type of dark basalt stone.

In the reorganization of the provinces, Diyarbakır was made administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province. In 1993 Diyarbakir was established as a Metropolitan Municipality.[38] Its districts are Baĝlar, Bismil, Ergani, Hazro, Kayapinar, Çermik, Çinar, Eĝil, Dicle, Kulp, Kocaköy, Lice, Silvan, Sur, Yenişehir and Hani.[39]

During the 1980s and 1990s, at the peak of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) insurgency, the population of the city grew dramatically as villagers from remote areas where fighting was serious left or were forced to leave for the relative security of the city. After the cessation of hostilities between the PKK and the Turkish army, a large degree of normality returned to the city, with the Turkish government declaring an end to the 15-year period of emergency rule on 30 November 2002. Diyarbakır grew from a population of 30,000 in the 1930s to 65,000 by 1956, to 140,000 by 1970, to 400,000 by 1990,[40] and eventually swelled to about 1.5 million by 1997.[41]

The 41-year-old American-Turkish Pirinçlik Air Force Base near Diyarbakır, known as NATO's frontier post for monitoring the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, closed on 30 September 1997. This closure was the result of the general drawdown of US bases in Europe and the improvement in space surveillance technology. The base housed sensitive electronic intelligence-gathering systems that monitored the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Russia.[42]

According to a November 2006 survey by the Sur Municipality, 72% of the inhabitants of the municipality use Kurdish most often in their daily speech, followed by Turkish,[43] with small minorities of Assyrians, Armenians and Yezidis still resident. After World War II, as the Kurdish population moved to urban centres, Diyarbakir gradually became predominantly Kurdish.[44]

Diyarbakır has been the victim of terror attacks in recent years. In 2008, a car bomb exploded in the city, killing five people, a blast for which nobody claimed responsibility. In 2015, a political rally of the People's Democratic Party was targeted, killing three people and injuring over 100.[45] And in 2016, two separate attacks in February and March, each killing six people. In November 2016 ISIL perpetrated an attack that killed 9 people and wounded more than 100.[46]

Between 8 November 2015 and 15 May 2016 large parts of Sur were destroyed in fighting between the Turkish military and the PKK.[47]

A 2018 report by Arkeologlar Derneği İstanbul found that, since 2015, 72% of the city's historic Sur district had been destroyed through demolition and redevelopment, and that laws designed to protect historic monuments had been ignored. They found that the city's "urban regeneration" policy was one of demolition and redevelopment rather than one of repairing cultural assets damaged during the recent civil conflict, and because of that many registered historic buildings had been completely destroyed. The extent of the loss of non-registered historic structures is unknown because any historic building fragments revealed during the demolition of modern structures were also demolished.[48]

The most notable football clubs of the city are Diyarbakırspor (established 1968) and Amed SK (established 1990).[49]

The women's football team Amed SFK were promoted at the end of the 2016–17 Turkish Women's Second Football League season to the Women's First League.[50]

In the 2014 local elections, Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were elected co-mayors of Diyarbakır. However, on 25 October 2016, both were detained by Turkish authorities "on thinly supported charges of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)".[51] The Turkish government ordered a general internet blackout after the arrest.[52] Nevertheless, on 26 October, several thousand demonstrators at Diyarbakir city hall demanded the mayors’ release.[51] Some days later, the Turkish government appointed an unelected state trustee as the mayor.[53] In November, public prosecutors demanded a 230-year prison sentence for Kışanak.[54]

In January 2017, the Turkish government appointed unelected state trustee ordered the removal of the Assyrian sculpture of a mythological winged bull from the townhall, which had been erected by the BDP mayors to commemorate the Assyrian history of the town and its still resident Assyrian minority.[55][56]

In the Municipal election 2019 Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı was elected mayor of Diyarbakir[57] In August 2019 he was dismissed accused of supporting terrorism.[58]

Historically, Diyarbakır produced wheat and sesame.[59][60] They would preserve the wheat in warehouses, with coverings of straw and twigs from licorice trees. This system would allow the wheat to be preserved for up to ten years.[59] In the late 19th and early 20th century, Diyarbakır exported raisins, almonds, and apricots to Europe.[60] Angora goats were raised, and wool and mohair was exported from Diyarbakır. Merchants would also come from Egypt, Istanbul, and Syria, to purchase goats and sheep.[61] Honey was also produced, but not so much exported, but used by locals. Sericulture was observed in the area, too.[62]

Prior to World War I, Diyarbakır had an active copper industry, with six mines. Three were active, with two being owned by locals and the third being owned by the Turkish government. Tenorite was the primary type of copper mined. It was mined by hand by Kurds. A large portion of the ore was exported to England. The region also produced iron, gypsum, coal, chalk, lime, jet, and quartz, but primarily for local use.[63]

At the turn of the 19th century, the Christian population of the city was mainly made up of Armenians and Assyrians.[36] The Assyrian presence dates to antiquity,[64] while Armenians had inhabited the town since the 8th century. There was also a small Jewish community in the city.[65]

There are also several Alevi Turkmen villages around Diyarbakır old city, however there are no specific official data about the population numbers.[65][67]

Some jewelry making and other craftwork continues today although the fame of the Diyarbakır's craftsmen has long passed. Folk dancing to the drum and zurna (pipe) are a part of weddings and celebrations in the area.

Diyarbakır is known for rich dishes of lamb which use spices such as black pepper, sumac and coriander; rice, bulgur and butter. The most famous specialty dish from Diyarbakır is Meftune which is made up of lamb meat and vegetable laced with garlic and sumac. Another known dish is Kaburga Dolması which is a baked lamb's ribs stuffed with rice, almonds and many spices.[68] Diyarbakır is also known for its watermelons; one of the events in the city is the annually held Watermelon Festival.[69]

The core of Diyarbakır is surrounded by an almost intact, dramatic set of high walls of black basalt forming a 5.5 km (3.4 mi) circle around the old city. There are four gates into the old city and 82 watch-towers on the walls, which were built in antiquity, restored and extended by the Roman emperor Constantius II in 349. The area inside the walls is known as the Sur district; before its recent demolition and redevelopment this district had 599 registered historical buildings.[48]

Diyarbakır has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). Summer are very hot and very dry, due to its location on the Mesopotamian plain which is subject to hot winds from the deserts of Syria and Iraq to the south. The highest recorded temperature was 46.2 °C (112.64 °F) on 21 July 1937. Winters are cold and wet and with frosty nights. Snowfall is quite common between the months of December and March, snowing for a week or two. The lowest recorded temperature was −24.2 °C (−10.12 °F) on 11 January 1933.