In an area stretching from Malatya in Turkey to Hama in Syria, two terrible earthquakes on the scale of 7.7 and 7.6 Richter occurred one day apart in more than ten major cities. So far, the number of deaths in both countries has exceeded 20’000 according to official figures: the number of injured is close to 100,000. However, experts say that these figures do not reflect reality and that there are tens of thousands of people under the ruins. According to some earthquake scientists, it is possible that the death toll could reach 200,000.
After the Elazıg earthquake in 2020, scientists have been warning for three years that a new and severe earthquake would occur in the region. In December 2022, Tulay Hatimogullari, former Co-Chair of our party and current HDP Adana MP, submitted a parliamentary question warning the government of the earthquake risk and questioning the state of preparations, and this motion was rejected by AKP-MHP votes. However, the Erdogan government, which plans to run Turkey’s economy on the construction sector, has not implemented any of the earthquake-related laws. This is best evidenced by the fact that most of the buildings destroyed in the earthquake were new buildings. President Erdogan is trying to create an Islamic capital base for his rule by expanding five construction companies close to him, in which he probably owns shares. These five holdings are using state funds to expand not only in construction but also in all areas of the economy with other companies in which they are partners.
The Turkish government was late in responding to the earthquake and did not use all the means at its disposal. On the contrary, it slowed down the internet to limit communication in the earthquake zone, reduced the bandwidth of Twitter, and made no effort to reactivate the destroyed telephone network. A state of emergency was declared the day after the earthquake as public complaints multiplied and President Erdogan said that “this was done to prevent looting and those who spread fake news”. Instead of declaring the earthquake region a DISASTER zone and declaring a nationwide mobilization, Erdogan is using this opportunity to increase social polarization, which he uses as a political method, to block municipalities and non-governmental organizations providing aid to earthquake victims and to attack his political opponents. However, the Turkish army, one of NATO’s largest armies, has the means to immediately intervene in an entire earthquake zone and rescue people. But according to media reports, instead of using the army to help earthquake victims, Erdogan continues to use it to bomb Kurds in Syria.
The largest part of the public personnel used in the earthquake zone consists of the police and soldiers, who are being used to silence those who complain about not getting help and to suppress the opposition. Turkish law dictates that in the event of such a major natural disaster, the region should be declared a disaster area. When this is done, no taxes are collected from the area, health services are made free of charge, army units in the area are made available to the population, and all the technical means available in the country are mobilized to assess and repair the damage. But instead of doing this, the government has declared a state of emergency to prevent the truth from coming out and to exert pressure on the people of the region which is mainly populated by Kurds, Alevis and Arabs; and for this racist-fascist, religious power, what is deemed worthy for those people is death. The bombing of Kurdish settlements on the Turkish-Syrian border on the grounds of fighting terrorism and the limited aid delivered to the region have once again proved this fact.
In order to be re-elected for the third time, contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Erdogan is considering either winning the elections under emergency rule, which he plans to hold in mid-May, or postponing them if he believes that he will not be able to win. The declared state of emergency is not to help the earthquake victims, but to suppress his opponents and remain in power.
According to some scientists and historians, one of the biggest earthquakes in the history of the world took place in our region. The world community mobilized in solidarity with the victims of the earthquake. However, since the addressees for inter-state aid organizations are state institutions, the aid collected is handed over to the Erdogan administration. We have legitimate concerns about the delivery of these aids, which everyone can understand, and there are practices that have been lived and are being lived beyond anxiety. The AKP government used the solidarity revenues collected for the recent Van earthquake, not for the earthquake victims but to strengthen its power. Likewise, the solidarity budgets that will be handed over to the Erdogan government today will once again return to the Kurds as bombs, to the opposition as prisons, and as the police-military-judiciary-terror.
However, we need direct bridges of solidarity between our peoples. The peoples of Turkey and Syria need your internationalist solidarity more than ever. We call on all humanists, democrats, progressives, and socialists of the world to support the peoples of Turkey in this earthquake and to stand in solidarity to frustrate the fascist plans of Erdogan.
WHAT CAN YOU DO for solidarity?
- You can tell your own public opinion in the most widespread way that the Erdogan government is using such a great disaster to maintain its own power instead of prioritizing support for the earthquake victims.
- You can create internationalist pressure to cancel the state of emergency in the earthquake zone and declare it a disaster zone.
- You can create international pressure on the Turkish state to stop its bombing and military operations against the Northern Syria/Rojava region, which was severely affected by the earthquake.
- You can create initiatives to increase humanitarian, psychological, and economic solidarity with the earthquake victims.
- You can get involved in the reconstruction of life in the coming period.
- You can support our financial solidarity campaign for the urgent needs in the ongoing search, rescue, and survival efforts in many earthquake zones.
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