There have been a range of stories circulating in the media about the ongoing Bizim Bakkal campaign. We want to reinforce to supporters that the campaign is not over, and there is so far no guarantee that the owner of the building will renege on their commitment to terminate the Caliskan family’s contract.
On Tuesday, June 30, the parties – Ahmet Caliskan and WGW Property Management – met to discuss the pending termination of the contract. The meeting was in response to the considerable public pressure that has been building in the campaign, including the efforts of Bizim Kiez and our fight against gentrification in the neighbourhood. While some aspects of the negotiation – which was translated into Turkish – were positive, Bizim Kiez wishes to inform everyone concerned that the negotiations remained inconclusive.
However, the lawyers for WGW property management later indicated to the media that the termination would not stand – that Mr Caliskan’s contract would continue and Bizim Bakkal would not be pushed out of the neighbourhood. Specifically, the press release stated that [translated directly from German] “After speaking today, our client has decided also in view of the personal situation of Mr. Caliskan, take back the pronounced dismissal without prejudice for factual and legal situation. This has already been communicated to the lawyer of Mr. Caliskan. “
Mr Caliskan’s legal representatives have informed us that they were not advised that the termination was off the table, meaning that the previous set of facts still stand. Those who published the press release were not the same lawyers who were at the meeting, meaning that there is no concrete guarantee that Mr Caliskan can continue to operate the grocery store.
Furthermore, the notice was not sent to Mr Caliskan’s current legal representation, but to his previous lawyer who did not represent him at the June 30 meeting.
The press release also included a complicated claim that Mr Caliskan had already indicated that he wished to terminate his lease and that he sought to meet with the property manager and discuss this, but as an agreement was never reached the result was the termination of his contract.
Again, Bizim Kiez wish to inform supporters that many of these facts cannot be substantiated, and it appears to be an attempt on the part of the lawyers to create confusion in the media – and among supporters of the campaign.
The true facts, however, are somewhat different. In truth, Ahmet Caliskan’s lease expired years ago, and has been continually extended pursuant to an agreement with the previous landlady – with whom Mr Caliskan had a strong, trustful relationship. Once the building was sold, Mr Caliskan took the opportunity to secure his family’s livelihood and negotiate a new contract with a defined period of time. As he is currently in poor health, he sought to sign a new contract which ensures the right to operate the grocery store stays within his family’s ownership, in his son’s name. However, the lawyers have made a false representation that Mr Caliskan sought to give up the shop, which is completely untrue.
It is difficult to accept that WGW property management actually believe their statements. It appears that, by spreading half truths and false statements, that they will confuse the media and disrupt the momentum of the campaign, allowing them to proceed with their original plan of converting the apartment block into condominiums.
However, we are aware of their tactics and we will not be disrupted. We will continue the campaign until we can be sure that everyone affected – including the tenants of the building – have secured their legal rights.
In addition, the Bizim Kiez campaign is becoming a symbol of gentrification in the neighbourhood. Even if we are victorious and Mr Caliskan secures his legal right to operate the store, we will continue to fight against the growing commercialisation and gentrification of our neighbourhood. We have come together and we have shown that we are strong – and that the real residents of the neighbourhood will not be pushed around by wealthy real estate company interests.
All of us who have fought and supported the campaign remain committed in solidarity. We – the whole neighbourhood – will continue to work together against the profit-driven interests who seek to displace us.
The next assembly is tomorrow, on July 8th at 7:00 pm as always in front of Bizim Bakkal (Wrangelstr. 77). Everybody’s welcome! The more, the better!