Earthquake in Van: Don’t Swallow Chauvinism, Forge Solidarity!

Van downtown and Ercis, a near town in the province Van, were rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on October 23 at midday hours, resulting in more than 600 death and more than 4000 injured so far. There are many people who are still under the rubble. Van is mainly a Kurdish town and the area is intensely populated by poor Kurdish people. So the victims are mostly poor Kurdish toilers.

Thousands of buildings collapsed in the earthquake and many others that did not collapse are damaged severely. Some villages around are almost wiped out of the map. Fortunately the quake came at midday which certainly reduced the level of losses. There was no aid within the first 10 hours by the state. People tried to manage with their limited means and that of those local municipalities held by the Kurdish party BDP (Peace and Democracy Party). People of the affected areas are angry about the rhetoric that “the state immediately extended its helpful hand” and cry out that there is no aid afforded by the state and say that “there is no state here”. Victims of the disaster are also affected by the cold weather.

26 seconds of tremors were enough to level thousands of building and set the streets filled with rubble. And those buildings that collapsed are not just old shaky buildings but there are many new buildings among them as well. And among these new buildings are ones like the main building of the public electric utility company, a 7-story student hostel and a religious high school, all were built by the AKP government when AKP had the Van municipality. The government and the municipality then were boasting about these buildings at the time of their construction saying that the government was “in the humble service of the people”. Now we see what kind of humble service this is. And this is no surprise. Because we experienced it in other earthquakes. This is no other thing than outright capitalist greed which can never be expected to behave in the interests of the working classes who are the only sufferers.

The earthquake came at time of military operations carried out in the Kurdish areas. The regime in Turkey is unwilling to solve the Kurdish question thus causing the deaths of many poor Kurdish toilers. And now the regime has been once again stepping up the chauvinist campaign. They say Kurdish people are our brothers while on the other hand they spill out hatred against Kurds. And the media is again in a state of war as foot soldiers in the earthquake. For instance one news presenter told that “although the quake took place in Van we are upset”, revealing the level of hatred and racism against Kurds. Another one who is the front woman in a TV show told that “Everybody should know his place. How dare you call for help with those hands reaching out, with those hands that threw stones at the police before? May God break those hands!” And in the social media such as Facebook and Twitter and other internet sites we witness a shameless wave of chauvinism growing. It is said in these media that Kurds deserved the devastation and sorrows caused by the earthquake.

The real responsibility of this devastation in the wake of the earthquake lies with the profit greedy system of bosses. It was totally possible to prevent the losses if there had been sufficient precautions, and the buildings had been constructed properly to resist such outside effects. But the bosses did not do that and we have the grave results causing so much grief. And the problem gets more serious because it is now coupled with the Kurdish question.

We call on all our class brothers/sisters: our common enemy is the class of bosses which exploits us. Let’s not be misled by the forces of this order which is unwilling to solve the Kurdish question, cause sons and daughters of poor toilers die, steps up chauvinism and tries to pit peoples against each other. Our sorrows are common. Forge solidarity with the Kurdish people!


25 October 2011