Over 35,000 people have been killed in two deadly earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria, with millions displaced and the death-toll still rising. The Kurdish Red Crescent and Kurdish political groups have called for urgent solidarity and aid for the victims, with impoverished and under-resourced Kurdish and Alevi regions of Turkey particularly badly affected by the catastrophe.
Medya News is convening an urgent Twitter panel on Monday 13 February at 7PM CET, to speak with experts and sources within the disaster zone. They’ll be sharing their observations of the crisis, what the public can be doing to support all regions affected by the disaster, and how international actors can avoid falling into traps set by regional governments, and seeing their aid donations put to political use in the service of authoritarian agendas.
Audience members can attend the debate via the link here, accessing via their Twitter account. After an open discussion chaired by freelance journalist Matt Broomfield, there will be the opportunity for audience members to put their questions to the humanitarians and policy-makers on our panel.
The panel will hear from Faik Yagizay, People’s Democratic Party (HDP) representative to the Council of Europe, as well as Rojvan Bilgin, chairperson of the Kurdish Red Crescent, and other Kurdish political figures. Addressing the humanitarian crisis will be Xeyal Qertel of the New York Kurdish Cultural Center, who is assisting with humanitarian relief efforts in the USA, along with Zeynep Binici from the Kurdish health committee.
Meghan Bodette from the Kurdish Peace Institute will analyse the policy reforms that need to be put in place by the USA as a result of the catastrophe, as will Erik Edman of pan-European political body DiEM25. Freelance journalist Frederike Geerdink and Adem Uzun of the Kurdistan National Congress will also share their analyses of the crisis.
Following the devastating earthquakes, analysts have argued that the toll from the natural disaster has been allowed to rise due to policies put in place by Damascus and Ankara. In Turkey, aid efforts have been turned away at the border if they come from the Kurdish diaspora, with resources diverted to majority-Turkish regions. More broadly, it appears President Erdoğan is using the catastrophe as an excuse to tighten his grip on power and impose authoritarian measures on the basis of a controversial ‘state of emergency’.
Across the border, the earthquake has caused devastation in regions of north-west Syria already torn apart by ten years of civil war. Little aid is getting through Damascus or the Turkish border to these regions, as a result of both these governments’ policy and efforts by Turkish-controlled militias to obstruct Kurdish-led relief efforts.
Following our previous panels, we look forward to convening experts from the disaster zone, Kurdistan, Europe and the Middle East for an open conversation on the aftermath of the catastrophe, and the immediate needs and next steps in the tough months and years ahead for the region.
Audience members can join the panel discussion here via their Twitter account, at 7PM CET (1PM Eastern), Monday 13 February.