Turkey has introduced a full lockdown, as of Friday, to last until 17 May. Kurdish sellers, who rely on their daily income, have financial concerns about the impact of this full lockdown. They have received no state support during the previous lockdowns which already severely affected their businesses.
In the old bazaar of Cizre, in the eastern province of Şırnak (Şirnex), there are tens of shopkeepers who feed their families only through the income they earn from their small shops. Mustafa İşçi is one of those shopkeepers. “We will be slaves at home with the new lockdown. We have not been able to pay our debts, because the business has died”, İşçi said in an interview with MA.
İşçi stated that he has received no financial support from the Turkish state during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will stay at home for 17 days, but how will we survive? They have introduced the bans, but they have supplied us with no alternatives”, he added.
Another shopkeeper Servet Cabaz has been selling goods in the old bazaar of Cizre for 20 years. “But I have never seen worse days than these. No job, no money. It is easy to introduce bans. People with salaries will stay at home, people with no salaries will stay hungry at home”, Cabaz said.
A customer of the bazaar, Kadir Azi said: “The prices are rocketing. We are not able to make ends meet and feed our children. We don’t know what we will eat during the 17-day lockdown”.
The atmosphere in the streets of the eastern province of Hakkari (Colemerg) is also not so different. Ahmet Özer, aged 65, has been working in the streets of Hakkari for 27 years, selling herbs in the summer and tobacco in the winter. He has adapted new ways to survive during the pandemic by selling masks. “Since people are at the deep-end economically, I cannot sell tobacco anymore. So what could I do? The street sellers are the ones who have suffered the most during this process”, he said.
Özer states that he is very stressed about the new lockdown in place. “We will all starve during the new lockdowns. The government needs to support us. We have seen no support until today, I can assure you”, he said.