ISTANBUL – Although the earthquake in the east of Turkey intensifies brotherhood between Turks and Kurds, on the other hand ethnic tensions are rising. Saban Isiktas, working for the Istanbul office of pro-Kurdish party BDP: ‘There are rumours that the aid to Van is being delayed because Van is governed by the BDP and not by governing party AKP. I think that is indeed the case. We are always treated differently.’
In the city of Van and in the nearby village there have been small protests against a lack of aid. Such reports don’t come from Ercis, which is evidence enough according to some: Ercis is an AKP municipality. It is common knowledge that in Turkey municipalities which are governed by the governing party have easier access to state services, whoever is in charge in Ankara. Whether even in these times of crisis non-AKP municipalities are being discriminated against, remains unclear.
The complaints that there is a lack of aid and rescue workers in smaller villages are commonly heard. Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay however claims there is enough aid. Some Turks also say that tents of the Turkish Red Crescent are being stolen and sold to victims. By the PKK – but it is unclear how they would know the alleged thieves are PKK members.
From the Kurdish side there is criticism about the number of battalions sent to the disaster area: 11 according to state TV TRT. Whereas 22 battalions are stationed near and across the Iraqi border in the fight against the PKK. It is in the end not even a week ago that 24 soldiers got killed by the PKK, the biggest loss for the Turkish army in a single attack since 1993. Many Turks support the cross-border fight against the PKK unconditionally, but for the victims of the earthquake, the numbers raise questions, especially in view of the lack of aid in remote villages.
Kurds and also many Turks are furious at TV talk show host Müge Anli. She thought it was remarkable that the Kurdish victims of the quake wanted aid from the government. In her TV show she said: ‘First they throw stones at the police, and then they ask for help?” A wave of criticism came crashing over her and a wagon of her TV station ATV was pelted with stones and pushed over.
Back to brotherhood: on October 30 there will be a big benefit concert in Istanbul with performances by many artists. The funds raised will go to Red Crescent.