When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Making It Political Already? Why Turkey's Earthquake Is Not Just A Natural Disaster

The government in Ankara doesn't want to question the cause of the high death toll in the earthquake that struck along the Turkey-Syria border. But one Turkish writer says it's time to assign responsibility right now.

photo of Erdogan at the earthquake site

President Erdogan surveys the damage on Wednesday

Office of the Turkish Presidency
Dağhan Irak


ISTANBUL — We have a saying in Turkey: “don’t make it political” and I am having a hard time finding the right words to describe how evil that mindset is. It's as if politics is isolated from society, somehow not connected to how we live and the consequences of choices taken.

Allow me to translate for you the “don’t make it political” saying's real meaning: “we don’t want to be held accountable, hands off.”

It means preventing the public from looking after their interests and preserving the superiority of a certain type of individual, group and social class.

In order to understand the extent of the worst disaster in more than 20 years, we need to look back at that disaster: the İzmit-Düzce earthquakes of 1999.

Because we have before us a regime that does not care about anything but its own interests; has no plan but to save itself in times of danger; does not believe such planning is even necessary (even as it may tinker with the concept in case there is something to gain from it); gets more mafioso as it grows more partisan — and more deadly as it gets more mafioso.

Yes, we need to protect our people not just from the earthquakes but from this regime, too.

Public relations is not politics

The country has been handed over to a contractor, who demolished Turkey and replaced it with structures built on sand and sea. The deadly contractors of the past are nothing compared to the development apparatus of the mafia-state of the past 20 years.

There will be those who will say, “We are in the middle of the disaster, is this the right time to be talking about this? A whole country is joining together to try to help the victims." But even now, planes cannot land at airports built on dried lakes, the construction tenders have been distributed in a way that leaves us with roads scattered in different directions as the aid tries to reach the people in need.

What we are experiencing today is the result of blind partisanship and greed.

Yet at the same time, a real effort is being made in terms of public relations, just in case. Officials of the AKP ruling party were sent to the field to repeat the cliched statements to the cameras of the pro-government media. All they have to do is look human when they do so, but are incapable of even that.

[Update: BBC reports Wednesday afternoon that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to Hatay, among the hardest hit regions, said: "It is not possible to be prepared for a disaster this big." Calling for "unity and solidarity," Erdogan added that: "in a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest."]

The regime of the mafioso party-state did the exact opposite of what science had dictated following the 1999 earthquake, and did it deliberately in order to create a new financial aristocracy that is dependent on them.

What we are experiencing today is the result of a decades-long disaster caused by blind partisanship and greed. The AKP have run this country for two decades with a mentality of “after us, the flood.” They never had the intention of doing something properly and they never will.

Accountability matters

Making this clear is not “making something political,” on the contrary, it is participating in politics in order to prevent destruction like this from happening in the future. It is asking for the return of stolen public funds. It is stating that “you either do this job properly or be held accountable, whether you want it or not.”

Let no one fool themselves: Deaths by earthquakes can be political, too. You cannot prevent the earthquake but you can control the results of the disaster — if that is your intention.

Pointing at those with other intentions is not “making it political,” it is an attempt to keep the arsonists who've been roaming among us with gas cans away from the next fire.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Free Speech Vs. Blasphemy: Artists Say Poland Stifles Their Freedom

Majority-Catholic Poland has some of the strictest defamation laws of any democratic country, which includes laws defaming the Catholic Church. For many artists, this has meant years of legal trouble, including threats of jail time.

Painting of cross entering a woman's body.

Krzysztof Soroka, a Polish-Dutch artist, was charged with "offending religious feelings" for displaying this painting.

Katarzyna Maria Skiba
Katarzyna Skiba

Krzysztof Soroka, a Polish-Dutch artist living in Szczecin, a city in northwestern Poland, was among an estimated 430,000 Poles who took part in the 2020 women’s strikes. The activist movement protested the government’s decision to ban abortions in the case of severe fetal abnormalities, including those that were life-threatening.

These were the second-largest protests in modern Polish history, surpassed only by the Solidarity movement of the 1980s, which prompted the fall of the communist Polish People’s Republic.

While attending the protests in Szczecin’s Solidarity Square, Soroka displayed one of his paintings, which showed a cross entering the lower half of a woman's body, in order to express his frustration with what he believed to be the church's entry into women's personal decisions.

On the way back to his apartment, he was detained by police officers, who took down his address. He was called to the police station two weeks later, beginning a years-long legal struggle.

In Poland, where 84% of the population identifies as Catholic, "offending religious feelings” by “publicly outraging an object of religious worship or a place dedicated to the public celebration of religious rites” is a criminal offense under Article 196 of the Polish Penal Code. Violating this law may result in fines, restrictions of liberty or prison sentences of up to two years.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest