My Condolences to TurkeyOctober 25th, 2011
The last five days have been filled with nothing but saddening news for Turkey.
Just a couple of days ago, on October 19th, twenty-six soldiers were killed by rebels in the southeastern province of Hakkari, to be pursued shortly after by a Turkish led incursion into Northern Iraq. The Turkish news rolled continuous footage in the following days of the soldiers’ bodies being returned to their hometowns, their caskets draped with the crimson Turkish flag and carried through the streets borne on the shoulders of the men, the women screaming and cursing the PKK, the terrorist organization advocating an independent Kurdish state. Even here in Istanbul, you could see the immediate response of the people to these attacks: the sudden appearance of red Turkish flags fluttering at every window, men selling huge red banners in the streets, teenagers and women tying red ribbons with the words “Şehitler ölmez, vatan bölünmez” [martyrs do not die, the homeland is indivisible] around their arms. Also as a translator’s note, here the word martyr, as opposed to our usage that tends to be reserved solely for religious figures, refers to the soldier who gave up his life for his country, the more common way of referring to one who has died in the line of duty.
And being on a college campus, you can always expect a reaction.
Within the days following the announcement of intended revenge made by President Abdullah Gül, simple, two to three sentence flyers found their way onto the light posts and bulletin boards all over the school.
This one happened to quote the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, although I have no way of verifying whether or not he actually said this and if he did in what context it was said: “The expression of peace does not suit their mouths,” with the final phrase common to all the posters, “Peace cannot come like this!” However, the question of the Kurdish minority being such a controversial subject, I was not surprised to see that twenty minutes later when I walked the same path, all of the posters had disappeared.
To further the grief of the Turkish nation, yesterday the region of Van was struck by what was confirmed as a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Turkey is the California on this side of the Mediterranean, prone to small seismic shocks and larger more devastating earthquakes every decade or so. However, despite this, Turkey is notorious for poor construction when it comes to earthquake resistant building planning, as a recent report by BBC accounts for at least 970 buildings destroyed so far in the affected region. The death count has been rising as well, with the last reported number being 279 but expected to be hundreds more.
Now everyone is making an effort to do what he or she can to contribute, especially those here on campus. Even more signs were taped up this morning, announcing student meetings to organize relief funds and collect necessities for the victims in Erciş, left homeless in the harsh weather. Facebook has also played a role as I see every one of my Turkish friends and a good number of exchange students online organizing their own efforts to pitch in by either donating money online or arranging to send blankets, toilet paper, and any other conceivably necessary item.
For those of you interested in helping out, you can follow this link to donate to Turkish Red Crescent (Red Cross… get it?), the humanitarian aid organization primarily responsible for providing aid to the earthquake victims.
Meanwhile to Turkey, my second home, başınız sağolsun…