Tolga Bektaş is a defender of right to the city and the chairman of the foundation Komşu Kapısı. He has been sued by the company responsible for the construction project that was opposed by Teşvikiye Sakinleri (Residents of Teşvikiye) - an initiative also founded by Bektaş. Claiming that their company’s “commercial reputation was sullied and its brand value attacked”, project owner DAP Yapı has sued Bektaş and four others for damages of 50,000 Turkish Lira each. The Court ruled on the second hearing that the company was not eligible for damages.

Tolga Bektaş was born in Heybeliada (one of the Princes’ Islands of Istanbul), although he has lived in the Nişantaşı neighborhood of the Şişli district since his childhood, completing his primary and secondary education there. He then studied mining engineering at Istanbul University and business management at Karadeniz Technical University.

Closely interested in politics throughout his life, Bektaş realized the significance of organizing at the local level while studying in Karadeniz. Following the Gölcük Earthquake of 1999, he began pondering the issues of neighborship and solidarity.

He was involved in the Maçka Forum during the Gezi Resistance of June 2013. He took part in founding the Komşu Kapısı Foundation as forums at the time were starting to fade away. The Foundation is also a constituent of the Şişli Collective.

Tolga Bektaş’s mother Suzan Bektaş was elected local representative for the Teşvikiye district with a population of 13,500 people at the 2019 local elections. Tolga Bektaş thus continued his work on safe housing rights through the local representative office and the Foundation. One of the projects that he and his community dwellers opposed was owned by DAP Yapı. 

In 2006, the 26-decare campus of Marmara University’s Faculties of Communication and Dentistry was closed down and the property was handed over to TOKİ (Housing Development Administration of Turkey.) In 2008, the Ministry of Environment, Urbanisation and Climate Change altered the construction plan of the property and declared it a “residence + commerce” area. 

DAP Yapı won the contract at the bidding held in the same year. Following the bid, AFAD (the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) removed the “Earthquake and Disaster Gathering Area” (DATA) qualification of the property. Despite many lawsuits, the Şişli Municipality authorized the construction on April 2020. Local residents filed lawsuits, organized protests, and carried out public work against this project that would be eradicating one of the few remaining disaster-gathering areas in their district.

In 2021, DAP Yapı filed a lawsuit against five local residents and two social media accounts of Teşvikiye Sakinleri that had opposed their construction project, for damages of 50,000 Turkish Lira each. The lawsuit filed at the Istanbul 9th Civil Court of First Instance was based on the claim that the company’s “commercial reputation was sullied and its brand value attacked” through press announcements and social media posts. 

After the earthquakes of Maraş/Hatay on the 6th and 9th of February, the local residents of Teşvikiye rapidly coordinated the gathering and delivery of aid with the help of 1800 volunteers. The hand-to-hand transfer of supply boxes to delivery trucks along a snow-covered street at night became a top news item on social media. The tent built in Mıstık Park continues to collect aid supplies.

Bektaş is also a disaster volunteer and works at the Neighbourhood Disaster Volunteers (MAG) organization.

The sentencing hearing of the lawsuit filed by DAP Yapı was held on February 23, 2023. The court dismissed the case in respect of all the names on trial.