On February 6, in the early morning hours, a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Gaziantep, a major city in south central Turkey. In the following days, aftershocks would continue to shake southern Turkey and northwestern Syria. At publishing, approximately 38,000 have died in Turkey and an additional 6,000 have died in Syria.
This is Turkey’s deadliest earthquake since the 1999 Izmit earthquake, and it is the region’s deadliest of the modern era. Following the 1999 disaster, the government of Turkey has passed many laws to protect the country from future earthquake damage, such as reforms to construction and building codes as well as new taxes. The earthquake tax, officially termed as the “special communications tax”, was first introduced as a temporary measure, but was eventually made permanent. Though the tax was originally 7.5% on private communications (such as mobile calls and text messaging), it was increased to 10% in 2018. It is estimated that since 1999, the tax has raised billions in Turkish lira, but it is unclear how those funds have been used, if at all, to create earthquake resistant housing.
In 2018, only weeks ahead of the reelection of the current Turkish government, the “construction amnesty” law was passed, this law provided a path to “amnesty” for buildings, even those still under construction, that failed to meet safety standards, thus giving construction companies and building owners a means to legally bribe the government by paying a fine. This “zoning peace”, another term for the construction amnesty, is in reality a peace between the Turkish government, who are entrusted with the management of the capitalist society, and the bourgeoisie, who construct, own, and speculate on the buildings. Tragically, this peace has only brought desolation for the working people of Turkey.
Amidst criticisms against Turkey’s initial emergency response, the bourgeois government has made dozens of arrests, mainly of building contractors, and issued over a hundred more arrest warrants in a clear effort to shift blame. There is of course plenty of blame to go around. Some small owners are accused of cutting down columns to create extra space in their buildings and President Erdogan is facing outage over the emergence of a viral video where he claims to have “solved the problems” of citizens with construction amnesty. But more than half of all buildings in Turkey have been found to be out of code, which clearly points to an issue with the capitalist system.
The capitalists saved on the cost of construction, it only cost the workers their lives.
While the Turkish capitalists made inexcusable delays in providing aid that was too little, too late, the militants of the communist and workers’ parties in Turkey have been providing help to the Turkish workers since the first day of the crisis. The Communist Party of Turkey set up crisis centers and began solidarity work, such as establishing search teams, medical care, and the distribution of food.
TKP #Antakya Kriz Masası’nda depremin 10. gününün akşamındayız.
— TKP (@tkpninsesi) February 15, 2023
However, the Turkish capitalists, anxious to hide their criminal negligence, have raided the Earthquake Solidarity Center established by the TKP and arrested 10 of its cadres. This blow to the communists’ effort to save lives and ease the suffering of the Turkish people was not tolerated, and other communist parties such as the Communist Party of Greece have denounced this vile action of the Turkish state. Last night, on February 16th 2023, a video was shared on the TKP Twitter account showing that the 10 members were released.
— TKP (@tkpninsesi) February 16, 2023
If you are interested in providing financial support to the TKP’s rescue efforts, below is the information to the TKPs international bank accounts:
TKP International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs):
DE54 1013 0600 0087 6750 09
(German account for TKP – please put “Spende für Erdbeben in der Türkei” as the donation title)
TR 7300 0100 0678 3590 7914 5010
(Turkish account for TKP)
Name if needed:
Address if needed:
Kuruçeşme, 205/2. Sk. No:51, 35390 Buca/İzmir
Swift code: TCZBTR2AXXX
Bank Name: Ziraat
CHIPS for USD: 409993