Earthquake in Bakur: A humanitarian crisis made worse by the state
On 6th February, north and west Kurdistan, south-east Turkey and north and east Syria, experienced huge earthquakes. Immediately after the earthquake on the 7th February, the death toll had exceeded 7,000 people. The number was expected to surpass 15,000 people, with tens of thousands of injuries. By the time of writing the number of deaths has now passed 20,000.
On the 9th February there was still cries of help coming from the wreckage in the destroyed villages. But today it’s silent. Most people will have frozen to death or succumbed to dehydration. The estimate is 20,000 people are still trapped underneath the rubble, unaccounted for, but most of them will already be dead.
Thousands of buildings and entire villages are destroyed, with roads and highways between cities seriously damaged.
The remains of families are still being pulled from the rubble, water, electricity and internet infrastructure is damaged and intermittent, and it is cold, raining, and snowing. People need on the ground resources immediately.
Our friends and comrades are telling us that the state is not helping, and they don’t expect anything from it. The Turkish state’s aid agency AFAD is nowhere to be seen.
Turkey collected $37 billion from the state earthquake tax. But the money went into the pockets of entrepreneurs close to the government and aid has been blocked from reaching people affected in Bakur and North East Syria.
The military air and ground vehicles used to attack and control the Kurdish regions are not mobilised for search and rescue, despite this being intensely time critical. Bombing of Kurdish positions in northern Syria (Rojava) and out friends in the mountains continues.
The region has been under decades of ongoing war from the Turkish state. On the morning of the earthquakes, left wing journalists were being arrested within Turkey, and the ‘Kobani trial’ against 106 Kurdish politicians continues. The state will not halt it’s colonial regime in the midst of natural disaster.
Some of our comrades, who members of the IWW met during a delegation in 2022, are organised within the large left-wing union confederations in north Kurdistan and Turkey under the Democracy and Labour platform. They are creating channels of resources and support on the ground, centred in Amed (Diyarbakır) and continuing further away in worse affected areas.
Heyva Sor is the largest Kurdish-led aid organisation that is receiving international donations, and we encourage people to donate to this.
Due to intense pressure and criminalisation of unions and politically active individuals, Heyva Sor is the safest way to send money, as anything sent internationally to unions can be taken away by the state due to controls on union bank accounts. Money sent to individuals could result in prosecution and further danger for them. We are asking our comrades who are working directly in the region to tell us of any other way to support their efforts.
If you or your IWW branch would like to make a donation to Heyva Sor or the comrades in the Democracy and Labour Platform feel free to contact email@example.com for advice on the safest and most reliable ways to get this money to those on the ground.
Bijî berxwedana karkeran! Long live the worker’s resistance!