Languages: Kurdî ‏سۆرانی‎

The Earthquake is Over, Now the State Kills

Early in the morning of 6 February, a massive earthquake struck the North of Kurdistan (Turkey) and Rojava/North and East Syria, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe that continues to unfold. This earthquake, with a reported magnitude of 7.8, was followed by a number of strong and deadly aftershocks. 20,000 people are already confirmed dead, and tens of thousands more are missing, as time runs out to reach those beneath the rubble. The search for those trapped continues, but the necessary equipment is lacking. Survivors have now found themselves homeless, left to find shelter in the winter as rain and snow continues and temperatures plunge below freezing with nightfall.

Yesterday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “These are things (i.e., the earthquake) that are in the plan of destiny,” though Turkey’s Chamber of Geological Engineers (CGET) had given the government numerous warnings about just such a disaster according to its Chairman Hüseyin Aslan. This organization of experts had been expecting an earthquake on the Eastern Anatolian Fault Line, and prepared a report on how the region should prepare for such a natural disaster, but the Turkish president’s office offered no feedback.

State of Emergency
Just a day after the catastrophe, Erdogan stated, “We have decided to declare a state of emergency in the ten provinces most affected by the earthquake for a period of three months, based on the powers granted to us by Article 119 of the Constitution, in order to ensure that search and rescue and subsequent work can be carried out quickly.” However, the main purpose of the state of emergency is to prevent the Kurds and their friends in particular from coordinating relief work in the affected regions. Over the last few days, civil society organisations, political parties including the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the civilian population in these areas have organised aid with their own resources, while the state authorities were initially inactive. International sympathy and solidarity for the victims is increasing day by day, and, for exactly this reason, a state of emergency was declared, which will severely restrict reporting from the areas destroyed by the earthquake and thus conceal the devastating effects of the disaster and the failure of the state to provide emergency assistance. Indeed, while those on the ground used all means of communication at their disposal to call for help and coordinate, the Turkish state blocked access to Twitter, apparently in response to public outrage.

All aid provided through Turkish state goes to the AKP
While much of the world has turned its attention to this tragedy, most often described by the international media as the “Turkey-Syria earthquake”, we are concerned that international aid may not end up benefiting the peoples of the affected areas, which are home to a diverse population including Kurds, Turks, Arabs, and others. All aid provided through Turkish state agencies such as the Turkish Red Crescent are directly under the control of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). The Kurdish majority regions in eastern Turkey have remained underdeveloped, and have been destroyed and plundered by the Turkish state, and we do not expect Turkish President Erdogan and his AKP regime, who have brutalised the peoples of this region, to change their priorities when responding to this natural disaster. Similarly, the people of the southern province of Hatay, who are 80-90% Arab Alawite, face systemic discrimination under the AKP government, and many have been struggling for days without electricity, water, and hygienic supplies, and have been left alone to try to find their relatives in rubble and pull them out to safety.

Syrian Regime also eclared State of Emergency
In Syria, the Assad regime has also imposed a suffocating siege on various Kurdish majority areas including the Shahba region in the Aleppo Governorate and the Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiya neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo for the last five years, and tightened it over the last 5 months. Elsewhere in the country, the Turkish state and its jihadist proxy militias continue to obstruct the arrival of aid prepared by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) for the affected areas. There is an urgent need for all blockades against Rojava/North and East Syria to end, and for all border gates leading into North and East Syria, especially the Tel Kocher Border Gate, to be opened immediately to prevent further loss of life. We call on the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and the international community to work to end to blockades against all areas decimated by the earthquake and immediately facilitate relief efforts before it is too late.

KNK calls for support
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) is grateful for the international outpouring of sympathy and solidarity with the victims of this natural disaster, and would like to ask all who wish to help the victims to donate to the Kurdish Red Moon (Heyva Sor a Kurdistanê), a Kurdish charity with chapters registered throughout Europe and beyond with a 30 year track record of transparently and efficiently providing relief to those in need throughout Kurdish areas affected by wars and natural disasters.

To ensure that assistance reaches those in need, we appeal to all Kurds and friends of Kurds worldwide to help the earthquake victims through the chapters of the Kurdish Red Moon. We thank you for your solidarity during this difficult time.

Executive Council of KNK, 10.02.2023

Heyva So a Kurdistanê – Kurdish Red Moon