The impudence of those who cowered down under the unbelievable gravity of the urban crimes they’d committed, trying to shield themselves from public anger behind the deceptive modesty of “having learned the bitter lesson”, have relapsed in less than a week in the aftermath of the 6 February earthquakes -a perfect epitomization of the saying “Wait until the repentant gambler sees the dice”.
And now the magic motto is “one year”! Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the threshold of the general and presidential elections -due 18 June- is asking for another year. He vows to “wash away all traces of destruction and rebuild the quake-stricken cities” within a year. He knows for certain that, even if he could still offer a few bites to the hungry, there is not a thing left to give to homeless, lonely, abandoned and angry millions. So, Sancho Panza makes way for Don Quixote… Bülent Arınç, the former aide of Erdoğan, the self-appointed wise man of the ruling Justice and Development Party, and “the unbending defender of the national will” as he would like to present himself, angles for the “grand plan”: “What’s up with election? No, are we gonna hold elections now? Who has a brass face for? How dare we? Cannot happen before a year!”
The gambler has broken his repentance as soon as he notices even a tiny possibility of finding a way to obstruct the upcoming elections, maybe even all elections, that he is doomed to lose and now he is jumping at the dice: “What if I roll double six this time?”
Let’s take a brief look at the past before we turn back to the future.
When these political Islamists rose to power, they had inherited a to-do list in their laps from the outgoing Bülent Ecevit’s government, the 8th Five-Year Development Plan -a state planning document what alongside major socio-economic isues also covered the issues pertaining to earthquake response and management, based on the bitter experiences of the 7,4 strong Marmara Earthquake of 1999 what had destructed a vast area to the east of Istanbul and caused at least 17 thousand deaths. (For those interested, here’s the link to the document at the Presidency of Strategy and Budget website)
In order to see that even just a persistent follow-up of the state-mandated measures could prevent the 6 February earthquakes from turning a into catastrophe, it only takes checking these two articles in the section related to earthquake resistant settlement and building management policies
- In the face of natural disasters, site selection constitutes the first and vital step of a safe and economical structure. However, the adverse outcomes of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, show that the laws on this subject are not implemented effectively.
- Since a large part of the building stock does not have sufficient earthquake safety, these structures will be systematically evaluated and strengthened in terms of earthquake resistance, and in a priority order starting from regions where the risk is higher.
Not even for a single moment of its 23 years of undivided power with full political responsibility, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has not fulfilled any requirements of this plan, which is simply a repetition of standard urban and regional planning rationales. This is no secret to anyone.
“The one-man”, shamelessly claimed in his “address to the nation” on Tuesday evening that “98 percent of the buildings destroyed in the latest disaster were built before 1999”. And even if this unfounded and questionable claim were the very truth, then it would only prove that the 6 February disaster was actually a premeditated massacre.
Not only Erdoğan waved aside the fundamental guidelines of the 8th Five-Year Development Plan, but he also had the Turkish parliament pass an amnesty for construction failures, dubbed as “Publicworks Reconciliation” on 10 May 2018. The amnesty acquitted 13 million non-standard buildings which were to be “qualified and strengthened” according to the development plan, of breaching the earthquake laws and regulations, depending only on the “declaration of the owners.” This was his advance enthronement bonus to property owners as the “Sultan” to-be.
Even if everyone forgets that Erdoğan and his government were the sole responsible for the enormous human loss and material damage caused by the February 6 earthquakes, the records of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) honourable warnings on 9-10 May during the parliamentary debate and its “No” votes against the “Publicworks Reconciliation” will not. History is the witness. What would happen was told to their faces in front of everyone, and they had been warned.
With this construction amnesty, millions of citizens have already been condemned to death, due to seemingly their own but actually public negligence as a major earthquake awaits them in reality. Instead of doing the exact opposite, as it should be, by mobilising all resources for urban re-establishment and restructuring in a determined manner, a great sin has been committed for the sake of an election, for the sake of an election victory. Therefore, with this bill, Turkey’s near future has been put under a very heavy mortgage. (see: https://ertugrulkurkcu.org/tbmm-de-ertugrul-kurkcu/akp-vergi-barisi-degil-sermaye-adina-emekciye-savas-ilan-ediyor/)
Let’s come back to the present. Any politician who will give an advance to the Erdoğan regime, not for a year, but even for a day on any argument, would have committed a political suicide. Moreover, any politician who would offer these gamblers the lives and the future of the peoples to bet with nature, then he would not only be obliged to a political death but also going to be an accomplice in the most organized and comprehensive murder ever attempted against the people.
If Turkey will truly turn its eyes to the future, the only rational conclusion it can draw from this past reckoning would be to get rid of this parasitic tumour on its back, this despotic and greedy regime once and for all.
Arınç and Erdoğan, who despise the people’s calling an election to cast their votes, the only practical way for a people’s governance, can only ask themselves “how dare they?” The people’s vote is the people’s pickaxe to rise free from under the rubble of 6 February earthquakes.
The opposition should stand firmly on the ground of the broadest alliance and embrace democratic politics, the strongest tool for popular defence, and expose the brass faces of these political caricatures.
A one-man regime, never again…
Ertuğrul Kürkçü is the current Honorary President of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Honorary Associate of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). He spent 14 years as a prisoner between 1972-1986 for his political activism in Turkey. He is also member of Progressive International Council.