Following events are in seven days period.
In July 28, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 22,291 people, number of death for this day was 76. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“The cases are at a level that makes it difficult to control the epidemic. We must stop this risk with a common will and decision that will benefit all of us. Precautions should be followed and those who are not vaccinated should be vaccinated. The first dose is immediately, the second and third dose as soon as it’s time!”
On the same day, news of forest fires started to come in several of the similar spots from the south of the country. Forest fires started in the 4 provinces in the south of Turkey. Three of these provinces are on the Mediterranean coast, and one is in the same region just inside. Especially 2 of them have attracted the attention of all rulers throughout history with the forests at back and the sea in front. In Manavgat, Antalya province at 4 different forests, in Aydincik, Mersin province, Osmaniye province in 2 forests, Adana province in 21 different places.
Especially the fires that broke out in 4 forest areas in Manavgat and then spread to settlements/villages would continue for days…
On the very same day, a law was enacted about tourism promotion and forest areas, but it’s echos would emerge in a day or two, and some professional chambers, some professors teaching in this field, opposition media and political parties would raise their voice againts issue.
As the journalist Murat Yetkin mentioned in his article in July 31, with title, “Forests and coasts open to new looting before the fires extinguishing“
“…Interestingly coincidence, the Law No. 7334 on the Amendment of the “Tourism Promotion Law and Some Laws” was published in the Official Gazette on July 28, 2021, when the forest fires started. According to paragraph “d” of Article 1 of the Law, the forest lands “Even if it is outside the Cultural and Tourism Development Zones” will be included in the scope of public interest and can be opened to tourism investors. All state immovables in these areas, location, places and borders will be determined and announced by the President’s decision, will also be included in the scope of tourism…”
Again on the same day, on July 28, there were news on the newspapers that a new influx of refugees from Afghanistan could come. Some of these news included interviews that showed that “Afghan families” no longer want to live under the oppression of the Taliban mentality in Afghanistan. They said that their aim was to go to Europe via Turkey. Some newspapers, on the other hand, had news of close to 3.5 million Afghans will be at the Turkish border in near future.
Actually a video was released about 10 days ago before July 28, Afghans were unloaded from a truck on a highway connecting two cities in the middle of Turkey, and they were left in the middle of the road. How could the people who were viewed while crossing the border recently come to the middle of Turkey? ie about 1000 km.
People started to talk that it was no surprise, that Afghans could easily cross the borders. However, the Afghans issue would be delayed for a few more days. Because the ruling party AKP Deputy Chairman and Head of Local Administrations, Mehmet Ozhaseki, had said the day before, “In some cities, they(Syrians) keep the industry alive“.
One of the comments on this subject came from a journalist, Murat Muratoglu.
In video between 3.25-5.00 minutes:
“Look, if the economy of this country is in this situation today, and if it will get worse tomorrow, one of the most important reasons for this is the refugees. Why? Because you have 12 million unemployed citizens in Turkey. You have 12 million unemployed and you make refugees work. Now there is an argument that “Turks don’t want to work”. Why do Turks not want to work? Because if you make the Turks work 16 hours a day, if you don’t pay their insurance, if you don’t allow them, (these are the problems) you can’t easily dismiss them when you want to fire them. But when you recruit Syrians, none of this is available. After making Syrians work like slaves for 16 hours, they say to Europe, “Look, we are teaching humanity to the world” (he is talking about the government sayings). Isn’t the biggest immorality in this world to take advantage of people’s plight? The men(Syrians) have no place to stay anyway. 20 people stay together in containers, they work for half the minimum wage, they do not provide food them, their social rights are not given (by the employer). They don’t even bother to fire them. But Turks have to take care of their house. “Have three children, have five children” (referring to the phrase that Recep Tayyip Erdogan often speaks to the Turks), is easy when you say it, you do it, you live in palaces. But for the people, will you pay the rent of the house or pay the bills like electricity? Refugees are already using illegal electricity, in containers that stay at companies’ construction sites. They don’t have an expense like the Turks. But the Turk has to look after his house. But, school is free for Syrians, and hospital (health services) is free. However, if the Turkish citizen does not pay the Social Security premium to the state, they are not allowed to enter the hospital.”
By the way, it should be noted that like Murat Muratoglu, both the majority in Turkey and everyone outside of Turkey who comment on this issue uses the word “refugee” for those who come to Turkey from Syria or other east countries. However, this is wrong. Being a party to the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, Turkey has narrowed the general geographical definition in this convention and only a person from European countries can become a refugee if they want to come to Turkey for reasons specified in the convention. In other words, Turkey only accepts those who come from European countries as refugees, as the party it has declared to its domestic law and to the United Nations. Because of those who came from Syria cannot be accepted as refugees, “Directive on Admission and Accommodation of Citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic and Stateless Persons Residing in the Syrian Arab Republic Coming to Turkey for Mass Asylum” was published as a circular in 2013. And “temporary protection status” applies to those coming from Syria. If they have not acquired Turkish citizenship during this period, none of those coming from Syria are refugees, nor asylum seekers. They are only under “temporary protection” status. Also, another point to be noted here is that this circular was issued only within the scope of Syrians. In other words, just like Syrians, unless a circular is added to the law for Afghans coming to Turkey and those coming from other eastern countries, it occurs currently a situation of unlawfulness.
In July 29, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 22,161 people, number of death for this day was 60. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“The number of cases today is 22,161. It is not possible to be protected from the epidemic without following the precautions without vaccination. Let’s get back to the fight with vaccines and measures.”
On the same day, forest fires continued. There were really bad images coming from Manavgat, Antalya. Moreover, forest fires started not only in that region, but also in Mugla, which is Aegean coastal city in the south-west of the country. And again, as in the others, forest fires were seriously threatening the settlements.
Here is the link of the zoom.earth image like I added at the beginning, showing the fires in Turkey on July 29.
The serious threat of forest fires to both nature and settlement areas, and especially very few aerial firefighting planes and helicopters drew attention, disturbing both the residents of the region and the people in other parts of the country. Because the people of Turkey had gained the experience that whenever there was a forest fire, the Turkish Aeronautical Association had the experience of dealing with fires in a much shorter time with the intervention of firefighting planes.
The Turkish Aeronautical Association was established in 1925 by the order of Ataturk. It was an institution that survived through donations. While its function is to provide firefighting aircraft or ambulance helicopters, it has also provided the pilot training for years. According to its own web page, there are eleven M-18 Dromader and nine CL-215 Bombardier type firefighting aircraft in the fleet of the Turkish Aeronautical Association. For years, it evaluated the donations given by the people of Turkey and these services together with the tenders it received from the state. When we say donations, we are not talking about small donations. A significant number of real estate or land in many parts of Turkey are included in these donations. I am using the past tense about the institution, because it was learned that, in fact, a trustee was appointed to the Turkish air institution by the government. In other words, Turkish Aeronautical Association could not pay its debts and the state appointed a manager of its own choice to head the institution.
Now it may be asked, “yes, this institution somehow went bankrupt, but what happened to the firefighting planes it has?” This was the question that almost everyone started to ask that day. On the second day of the forest fires, which especially threatened the country’s south coastline, everyone was looking at the sky and rebelling with angry desperation, saying: “Where are our firefighting planes, why are they not coming to help?” The people of Turkey were right to say “where are our firefighting planes”. Because, as I explained above, this institution has come to this day in line with the donations made by the Turkish people for almost 100 years. The answers to these questions and more would emerge the next day.
On the same day, the following news appeared in the press. “NATO starts training Afghan special military units in Turkey” The entry of the news is as follows: “After the end of the training program in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of international troops, NATO is preparing to start its first training program abroad for Afghan security forces in Turkey. According to the information obtained by the German news agency dpa, a group of Afghan special military units flew to Ankara for training purposes. NATO plans to regularly train Afghan troops outside Afghanistan…”
Turkish government had already announced that it wanted to take on the task of protecting the Kabul airport in Afghanistan by meeting with the authorities in US about a month ago. According to the news in the press, Turkey was very keen on this issue, but the American side was cautious, constantly stating that it was of great importance to protect the Kabul airport.Despite the contradictory situation, US authorities on the other hand finds “Turkey’s protection of Kabul airport ‘vital’ for diplomatic presence in Afghanistan”, according to news. As if it was an undiscovered source of energy had been found on the planet, and this source was located right under the Kabul airport, and America wanted an election very carefully about who will protect this area. When we say an election, there is actually no election. Again according to the news in the press, there is no one who wants this job outside of Turkey. Every country wants to sever their ties with that place as soon as possible.
If you google why Kabul airport is so important, you will meet the followings.
“This airport has a vital role in establishing a connection between Afghanistan, which is located in a mountainous region, has no sea transportation and has a serious security problem on the roads, with the outside world.” According to this importance, since no one other than Turkey is willing to do this job, in this case, no country other than Turkey wants the people living in Aghanistan to contact the outside world.
“Kabul Airport is one of the priority places in terms of ensuring security after the withdrawal.” According to this importance, it is Turkey that wants the withdrawal of NATO troops to be carried out in the healthiest way possible. The 27 countries in ISAF are NATO countries, but inside them only Turkey wants to send everyone home safely.
“Some countries assert airport and air transport security as a prerequisite for holding their diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. Moreover, international aid organizations deliver the necessary humanitarian aid to this country using this airport.”I guess, again, any country other than Turkey does not concern about the security of diplomatic elements or international aid organizations.
Considering these importance items, Turkey seems kind of being more royalist than the king.
By the way, I came across another information about Kabul airport recently. The video below is a video published by Coskun Aral. He is Turkish war correspondent, photo journalist, television journalist and documentary film producer, according to wikipedia. But for the many Turkey people, he is the brave heart with his news from the battlefields in many parts of the world for many years, he is a great traveler because he has the ability to go to places you can never imagine and introduce and teach them, he’s a great photographer because the shots he captures feel alive. He is shortly one of the few good men for many Turkey citizens, and his comments about the issues he knows have high percent truth.
In video between 9:35-10:35 minutes
“Well, even if Turkey is not in a combatant position to control Kabul airport, would it be a problem for Turkey to secure that airport? I think it does, because Kabul airport is a place where one or two airlines of the world operate, one of which is Afghan airline Ariana, I don’t know how many planes of its are left, and the other one is our Turkish airlines; it is an airport where only private planes land and take off for special purposes. Let me tell you what they are. Drug trafficking. Because Afghanistan is one of the leading countries in heroin production in the world, defined as the golden crescent this country due to this feature, only the Taliban’s income is close to one billion dollars from this. In the meantime, guess where that $1 billion worth of heroin reaches in the world markets. Because of such a market, the use of that airport brings other problems.”
In July 30, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 22,083 people, number of death for this day was 69. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“We have not yet been able to keep the rate of increase in the number of cases under control. The way to do this is prevention and vaccination. Get your vaccine without wasting time, no matter day and night or the weekend, and follow the precautions.”
The General Directorate of Forestry announced that 70 of the 81 forest fires in 24 cities that broke out between 28-30 July were brought under control. According to the table published by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli on his social media account, 21 fire extinguishing works were continuing in 7 different provinces.
Here is the link of the zoom.earth image like I added at the beginning, showing the fires in Turkey on July 30.
Regional directorate of forest firefighting teams, firefighters sent to the cities where there were fires from many provinces, the people of the region, the volunteers who came to help by hearing the fire, non-governmental organizations and almost everyone were struggling with all their might to overcome the fires with the least damage. At the same time, everyone had the same question, “Where are our firefighting planes?” In response to these questions, on 30 July 2021, the Minister of Forestry made a press statement in Antalya, Manavgat. According to the statement, 3 firefighting planes were leased from Russia.
What matters is not what we fly in the air, but what we throw on the ground. No matter how much water we throw on the ground, whether it’s the Russian planes or helicopters we’re currently using, there’s nothing more capable than that. Now we are making purchases with the tender system. So we don’t have firefighting planes, we don’t have helicopters in our inventory. This has been the case since eternity, and we started to work on the purchase of aircraft in our inventory upon the instruction of our President.
He claimed, “We don’t have a problem with the Turkish Aeronautical Association, we can’t. The problem with the aircraft is not the capacity to fly, it is not capable of performing even if it flies.”
Pakdemirli continued his words by saying, “Helicopters were chosen according to the geography of Turkey. The planes of the Turkish Aeronautical Association are not capable of flying, but there are still making explanations like we should use planes from the 1960s like an antique shop.”
According to news “The description of the aircraft of the Turkish Aeronautical Association as “antique” also drew a reaction. Former THK Central Supervisory Board Chairman Bayram Duman said, “Turkish Aeronautical Association is not an antique shop. Our fire planes, on the other hand, are not antiques, they are world-class planes used by all Western countries. Our aircraft are capable of flying and have high performance. There are no old planes in aviation, there are neglected planes. These planes can intervene in fires when they are maintained within 4-5 days.”
A couple days later, according to the statements of the pilots who had previously worked at the Turkish Aeronautical Association, 11 pilots were going to say they are ready for the mission if the call comes. Also 4 million dollars is needed to prepare these planes. Russian planes were leased for 1.3 million Turkish liras for 153 days, or about 150 thousand Turkish liras per day.
In total, 203 million Turkish liras, or about 25 million dollars, was going to pay for the rental of 3 Russian planes. According to the following news in May 2021, “They rented planes from Russia for 1.3 million liras per day, while domestic facilities were available.” “The Ministry of Forestry opened a firefighting aircraft lease contract. The five ready-to-fly aircraft of the Turkish Aeronautical Association were not put into the tender this year either. 4 companies participated. The tender was given to the firm that submitted the most expensive bid. Turkey, which rots the planes of the Turkish Aeronautical Association in the hangar, will pay 1.3 million liras per day to 3 Russian aircraft, and 203 million liras in total for 153 days.”
And it would come out that the tender specifications of the Ministry of Forestry for fire extinguishing aircraft were changed and the capacity limit of 5000 liters was introduced. The Turkish Aeronautical Association could not get the tender with its 4900 liters fire planes, that is, because of the difference of 100 liters. However, it was very interesting that one of the Spanish planes that came to help a few days later was the same model as the Turkish Aeronautical Association inventory planes.
On the same day, in Konya, one of the provinces in the middle of Turkey, news came that 7 people belonging to a family of Kurdish origin Turkish citizens were killed…
On the same day, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu was with Minister Pakdemirli, who made a press statement on the Forest Fires. And according to the news:
“Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, while talking about the continuation of forest fires in Antalya, stated that an account will be opened by the Antalya Governorship for “cash aid” and said, “Our nation is generous. They always do what they can for support.”
Mevlut Cavusoglu’s announcement that an aid account was opened in this way caused immediate reactions. In previous natural disasters, the authorities in Turkey opened an aid account and Turkish citizens used to donate money to this account. However, there was a situation like this. For example, the public had serious doubts that the aid money collected for the previous earthquake or the tax paid by every citizen under the name of earthquake tax were actually given as aid to earthquake victims. As stated in this news:
“Among the six taxes that were enacted after the 1999 earthquake to reduce economic losses, SCT is the only tax that continues to be levied until today. That’s why it was named ‘earthquake tax’. According to experts, approximately 70 billion liras of earthquake tax was collected between 2002 and 2020. This is estimated at more than $30 billion at annual exchange rates. CHP Istanbul Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu’s asked question “Where were the earthquake taxes used between 2002-2020?” Answering the question, Minister of Treasury and Finance Lutfi Elvan reminded the principle of unity of the Treasury in the law and stated that it could have been used for any expense in the budget. Elvan, stating the Special Communications Tax (OIV), known as the ‘earthquake tax’ in the public, is used within the scope of the ‘Treasury union’, “It may have been spent on any expense,” he implied.
There are actually 7 basic tax types in Turkey. However, the tax types under these 7 basic taxes are listed according to their codes and there are more than 7 tax types according to the current list of the Presidentship of revenue management. In total, in 17 laws, 53 taxes, fees and shares. In other words, some kind of tax of tax is also paid.
There is a calculation of the collected taxes as follows:
In video between 6:56- 7:46 minutes:
Ozlem Gurses: Murat, how much public loss do you think in Turkey?
Murat Muratoglu: Haha, very good question. In which area?
O. Gurses: It doesn’t matter at all, in total.
M. Muratoglu: You mean what did they eat?
O. Gurses: I don’t mean it in that sense. I mean, how rich we could have been get? What is done with these tender laws, irregularities, unnecessary expenditures, pomp.
M. Muratoglu: If we calculate it this way, the tax collected since 2003 is 2.5 trillion dollars. Look around you, you could build 2-3 countries with 2.5 trillion dollars from scratch.
O. Gurses: $2.5 trillion dollars?
M. Muratogu: Yes, taxes were collected.
O. Gurses: So this is equal to Turkey’s income?
M. Muratoglu: No, Turkey’s annual income is 750 billion dollars.
In many of the social media and public interviews this day, Turkish citizens was angrily asking where and when these taxes would be used, if they are not used in times like these.
Today, there were also news of “Afghan families” who want to go to Europe from Afghanistan via Turkey.
In July 31, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 22,332 people, number of death for this day was 79. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“The number of cases is above the 20 thousand limit despite the weekend. It is possible to reverse this. If we comply with the measures and gain immunity with the vaccine, the situation will turn in our favor.”
The latest situation in the forest fires was not encouraging. Although the fires were extinguished at many points, the fires continued rapidly in some districts and villages on the southern line.
Here is the link of the zoom.earth image like I added at the beginning, showing the fires in Turkey on July 31.
The fires that started in the forests had also engulfed the settlements. People started to be evacuated from some parts of towns such as Manavgat, Marmaris, Bodrum and Fethiye.
By the way, I should point out that I am not adding the videos and images of the fires in this post. Those, who want see the level of disaster, can access all the images and videos if they write the names of these districts that I mentioned and write forest fire on google translate and translate them into Turkish, after google them. Why I don’t add it? Because I have never witnessed such a disaster in my life on this planet. Hundreds of years of forests were burning, animals, houses, the desperation of people, but the efforts to save every living thing until the last moment under this desperation, how rapidly the flames threaten life, were all more frightening than a chaotic movie. And adding these visuals would have made it very difficult for me to write this post as it would affect the reading of the readers by focusing.
For example, in the images of today that I have not included here, there are villagers in Mersin Silifke trying to dig a trench by digging the ground with their hands to prevent the progression of the fire 3 meters in front of them. Yes, with bare hands. Kazdaglari Istanbul Solidarity @kazdaglariist tweet on this subject was as follows:
“We will not be able to prevent this fire if you do not send a rake, a pick, or gloves to help us, and WATER. We are on fire!”
Or, in the images that I have not included here, there are citizens in Marmaris trying to fill the fire truck with 5 liters of water to make it move forward. Or, in the images that I have not included here, there is a man with his cows surrounded by flames, screaming for help. Or there are images of frogs and even butterflies escaping from the fire drinking water from people’s hands. You heard right, even butterflies!
And among all these and others, what was worse affecting was a burning forest video with a sound recording. The cries of animals, wild boars, birds and many other animals could be heard.
On the same day, according to the news of dw turkish, Turkey had a 10 million dollar mosque built in Ghana. Hearing that the mosque in Ghana was built by Turkey at a cost of $10 million, the citizens of Turkey were thinking of the $4 million needed to make the Turkish Aeronautical Association’s firefighting planes available.
Meanwhile, on the same day, while forests continued to burn in the south and south-west of the country, Baskale district of Van province in the east of the country flooded. While many houses were destroyed, a woman was also swept away by the flood waters.
In the evening of the same day:
Erdogan in the disaster area: “He threw tea to the people in Marmaris, that was fighting fires!”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is AKP member, said about the forest fires in Marmaris, “We will not leave the square to provocateurs.” After his speech, Erdogan threw tea to the people, as he did in flood areas.
In August 1, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 20,890 people, number of death for this day was 96. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“What will stop the rise in the number of cases are the will we demonstrate and the measures we will accord with. Get vaccinated, stay away from crowds.”
That day, forest fires were continuning…
Here is the link of the zoom.earth image like I added at the beginning, showing the fires in Turkey on August 1.
And that day, the government, which was critized about fire-fighting, put the responsibility for forest fires to municipalities at first hand, so by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. All of the provinces’ municipalities on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts where forest fires occur in Turkey these days are governed by opposition parties not by government party AKP.
News: “Minister Pakdemirli: The responsibility in the forest areas that I see belongs to the municipalities.”
While the laws in Turkey were clearly written and in front of everyone, the debate on whether the primary responsibility for forest fires belonged to the municipalities or the government lasted for four days. By law, responsibility for forest areas belonged to the government. In other words, to the General Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. According to news on 4 August, Muharrem Ince a former deputy from the main opposition party, was going to respond to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who put the responsibility on the municipalities in the same way as the minister of his own government, as follows on Twitter:
“You can’t escape responsibility, Erdogan! You’ve been in power for 19 years, you haven’t bought a fire-fighting plane! You left the ours in the hangar. It’s a shame to say “fire is the responsibility of municipalities”! The fire that started in the forests came to settlements as a result of your incompetence. Tell the right, tell the truth.”
On the same day, apart from the coastal provinces, there was another province where the fire started. That was the province of Tunceli, that is, the province ruled by Turkey’s only communist mayor, Fatih Mehmet Macoglu.
A fire broke out in Hozat district of Tunceli province and when Macoglu set out to go to that area with his team, police forces prevented them from entering the fire area. Just on the day when the Minister of Forestry Pakdemirli said that the responsibility belongs to the municipalities, a dilemma arose such as preventing the fulfillment of the responsibility they had imposed on the municipalities.
Turkish journalist and columnist Ismail Saymaz made the following assessment on the situation in his column on this day:
“…Reputation is burning furiously
The President, like his minister, says that the Turkish Aeronautical Association does not have an airplane. If it has, he would surely have known. He recently flew eight planes to visit Cyprus. The last time Ercan Airport saw so many planes at the Cyprus extraction operation(in 1974). If the Turkish Aeronautical Association had a plane that could fly, it would have landed in Cyprus with the president’s fleet before extinguishing the fire. While Erdogan explains that having a complex with 1115 rooms, building a summer palace in Okluk bay and a winter palace in Malazgirt as “It’s not be retrenched on reputation”, he sees a fleet of 13 aircraft as a requirement of the state governing (mentioning presidential fleet). Turkey’s reputation has been on fire for three days, since the firefighting planes, which can be repaired with the income from the sale of one of these planes, are covering a spider web on the ground….”
Meanwhile, the flooding in Van province continued, according to news, thousands of animals died and dozens of houses were destroyed.
This day, also the following video about Afghans approaching the Turkish border were shared on social media.
In the first three days of press news that I included in this post, it was stated that those who were coming were always Afghan families. However, these images and many more images that would appear later showed that there were no women and children among those who came. It was only young Afghan men who came.
In August 2, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 22,898 people, number of death for this day was 91. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“The rate of increase in the number of cases tends to decrease. We are the ones who will make it permanent. Get your vaccine without compromising the measure.”
Today, the fires in the Cokertme neighborhood of Mugla province and the Bodrum district were very large. For Cokertme, the mayor of Mugla wrote the following tweet on the night between August 1 and August 2: “Last look at our Cokertme neighborhood. We are in great sadness…” #weareonfire #Milasfire #wewantairintervention
Also today, the mayor of Antalya metropolitan wrote the following tweet:
“The fire in Gundogmus has come to the city. Planes and helicopters are needed. As the Metropolitan Municipality, we are intervening on land with our relevant institutions and organizations. We are evacuating with our buses. Our lives are hurting. Let’s put out this fire together now.”
Marmaris Mayor told the authorities, “Hisaronu is on fire! Flames have reached the settlements, houses are being evacuated. Emergency air support is a must! Hear the screams now!” by making call on Twitter.
Bodrum Mayor‘s tweet about today was as follows: “Please hear our voice, we need urgent help. To defend the last remaining forests in Bodrum, to protect life.” # wewantairintervention #Bodrumonfire
By the way, I would like to add that these mayors and others didn’t just tweet during the fires, of course. They were helping by trying to coordinate between the people and the rescue teams in the constantly fire areas, almost 24/7 every day.
Here is the link of the zoom.earth image like I added at the beginning, showing the fires in Turkey on August 2.
While the news channels known for their closeness to the government were making news like “Turkey’s fight against fires set an example to the world,” the mayors of the districts where the fires broke out were tweeting pleadingly and asking for help.
Besides, according to the news on the same day:
“Citizens chased the TRT (Turkish state television) crew in Hisaronu, which was still on fire: ‘Yesterday you said Hisaronu was saved!’
In Mugla Marmaris, fires continue in many regions for 5 days. One of the places most affected by the fires was Hisaronu in terms of the number of settlements.
As the flames started to rise again in the Hisaronu District, the citizens living in the area reacted to the TRT team by saying, “Yesterday, you said Hisaronu was saved,” saying that they saved their homes with their own efforts. Meanwhile, the NTV reporter said, “Who said it?” replied.
Citizens who said, “There is no intervention, we are burning here, the nation has come to this point,” demanded the TRT team to leave the region.
‘There is no police?’
A citizen said, “Then why is he distributing tea in Marmaris?” said. After the reactions, the TRT reporter yelled, by saying “Isn’t there a policeman?”
TRT crew had to leave the area by getting into their cars.
The main reason why the state’s emergency fire rescue teams and the firefighters of the provincial municipalities are insufficient, and the mayors of the districts especially ask for air support, is that these forested areas are on very rough and steep lands. Therefore, it is very difficult to reach by road. In addition, the fact that the burning pine cones jumped a few kilometers away from its place, like a firecracker, with the effect of the strong wind, made the intervention efforts from the land insufficient. That’s why endless efforts of the civilians, the firefighters from many provincial municipalities also forestry directorates were not enough.
Also during the day, news of a terrible murder came from Antalya. A young woman, 21-year-old college student, was brutally murdered and thrown into the forestland…
Another news from the same day:
“Loan offer from Erdogan to villagers whose house was burned: ‘It’s like paying 500 Turkish Liras rent after 2 years…”
Mustafa Cansız, the headman of Kalemler village, where was affected by the fire in Antalya’s Manavgat district, where also 7 people lost their lives in fires, stated that when President Erdogan who is member of AKP came to their village, and he promised that “everyone’s house would be built”.
Headman Cansiz said:
Mr. President said that for example, “if there is an expense of 500,000 Liras, we will cover 300,000 Liras of it, you will pay 200,000 Lira as a loan after 2 years, as if you are paying 500 Liras rent after 2 years.” But if our sensitive and helpful people pay for the remaining 200,000 Lira here, we will be pleased.
Emphasizing that there are citizens in their villages who will not be able to afford to pay for the rest of the loan of their houses, Cansiz said, “There are many people who will not be able to afford it. Everyone here is low-income. They’ve been victimized. Their houses and tractors burned down.
Meanwhile, on the night bewteen August 1 to August 2, Twitter users in Turkey started to add the hashtag #helpturkey to their tweets. With a kind of global call, they stated in tweets that air response planes were requested for fires to countries that wanted to help. According to analysis, around 2.5 million #helpturkey hashtags were used in one day. Immediately afterwards, government officials made statements that this hashtag made the country look weak. In this statement, they claimed that the twitter accounts using this hashtag were of foreign origin bot accounts.
Teyit.org (Confirmation org), which is investigating the accuracy of internet news on web, shared the following article on this subject:
Case study: The story of the #HelpTurkey hashtag
It can be suspected that the #HelpTurkey campaign was started artificially to show Turkey in powerlessness. But the scattering of shares was organic. There are dozens of multi-follower and verified accounts that cause the campaign to become massive.
Turkey has been coping with forest fires, which are constantly being added in the last few days. For the Mediterranean basin, this is normal to some extent; However, it is also the case that global climate change and other human factors increase the number of these fires and the areas they affect every year.
Aside from the claims that do not rely on any concrete evidence – at least for now – as the fires were caused by systematic arson, one of the main agenda items for the last four days has been that Turkey is unprepared for the fires that can be considered “predictable”, that it is incapable of managing the crisis and that its political priorities are inaccurate.
Moments of crisis can lead to tremendous collective panic. For example, 50 infernal images that an ordinary social media user sees in a row on his timeline can make it difficult to maintain common sense.
Cries for help in times of crisis and panic are also understandable. However, the post in English, which we think you have seen frequently on social media in the last few days and shared with the hashtag #HelpTurkey, brought up another delusion. When the text requesting help from abroad to Turkey was shared millions of times within hours, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun claimed that the campaign was deliberately launched by foreign powers who wanted to show Turkey incapable. Altun did not support his claim with any concrete evidence.
Of course, it is necessary to be organized in order to create a digital or daily campaign. Being an organized effort is not a good starting point for declaring a campaign “malicious” or “foreign-powered”. However, the claim that the campaign was produced “artificially” can be examined…
First of all, it is not unusual for countries to help each other for free during disasters such as earthquakes, floods and great fires. Countries with high per capita income may also need help in the face of such unexpected crises, no matter how prepared they are. Moreover, the offer and acceptance of help does not necessarily correspond to a physical need. It also means a mutual declaration of goodwill. As a matter of fact, Turkey has sent aid to many countries in similar situations and has received offers of assistance from many countries.
In the early days during the ongoing fires, Turkey did not request any assistance. The demand of the public has strengthened and new fires have been added to the fires with the effect of the air temperature. Finally, on August 1, Turkey asked for help from the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, the relevant unit of the European Union. Spain, which is part of the program, announced that it will send two planes and Croatia one…
In other words, first of all, Turkey offered foreign aid itself, and we have no reason to think that the motivation of their offer was to “show Turkey weak”.
So, many real Twitter users in Turkey used the hashtag #helpturkey, but asking for help from foreign countries was not something they did in the first place, as claimed. The government had already sought help from foreign countries before they did. However, this fact would not prevent an investigation into this hashtag by the prosecutor on August 5, 2021.
There is a phrase used by Turkish journalist Fatih Yaslı for situations like this about the government:
“They invented a very interesting way of lying, they claim the exact antithesis of what they are, what they’re doing, whatever they think.“
On the same day, the US Department of State gave a briefing with title “Briefing with Senior State Department Officials On the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 (P-2) Designation for Afghan Nationals“
According to the briefing notes:
Many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members are at risk due to these U.S. affiliations and are not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa because either they did not have qualifying employment, or they have not met the time-in-service requirement to become eligible; however, they may be eligible for a P-2 referral, and thus, to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Once we begin processing these cases, we will work with our resettlement partners in the United States to welcome these Afghan refugees to their new communities. Refugee resettlement would not be possible without the support of state and local governments, our resettlement partners and affiliates, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations, advocacy groups, and the tens of thousands of volunteers across the United States who participate in this program….
This is [Senior State Department Official Three]. I’ll just add that in a typical refugee outflow, when refugees arrive at the border they would present themselves also to UNHCR, which is our primary partner on the ground. And they would be providing the international protection in addition to whatever protection might be provided by the government in which the refugee is seeking asylum.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah, and this is [Senior State Department Official Two]. I’ll just add one other thing, and that is that we’ve already been in discussions with neighboring countries as well as UNHCR to be prepared for potential outflows. So in a place like Pakistan, it’ll be important that their borders remain open. Obviously, if people go north or if they go via Iran to Turkey – we’ve already seen some arrivals in Turkey – that people have an opportunity both to enter the country as well as to register with either the government or with UNHCR.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you very much. Two quick clarifications. So just to be clear, the 12 to 14 months, that is from the time someone is referred until potentially accepted? Is that correct? Number two, you mentioned – sorry I’m out of breath, I’m running – you mentioned that these – these other countries that they could go to. Are there any countries where you’ll provide them any housing or any kind of support? And three, you just mentioned that you’ve already seen an influx into Turkey. Can you give us any sense of how many people have gone to Turkey who may be eligible or applying for this new visa? Thanks.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thanks, Courtney. So first question on the time horizon, no, it’s not 12 to 14 months from the time they’re referred. The clock really doesn’t start ticking until somebody has left Afghanistan and we can begin their case processing. So the time horizon is really dependent on when they get out and when we can start the processing of their case.
In terms of assistance in other countries, as in any other refugee situation where people are fleeing the country and showing up in other countries, as I believe my colleague [Senior State Department Official Three] mentioned, there is an international response for that that is organized through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, where people can present themselves either to the government or to UNHCR to seek international protection while they wait for our program. And as part of that protection that is offered it oftentimes includes humanitarian assistance, and so that would be the mechanism by which we would look to have us and other donors support people who are fleeing.
I don’t have numbers on Turkey. I would say we haven’t seen major large outflows of people yet, but we have seen some numbers of people crossing, but not large numbers yet.
In short, it is said that “we(US) will expel the people with whom we fought together against the Taliban in Afghanistan, because we will no longer be in Afghanistan. We will give them a special visa. They will come to America with that visa. Exit from the country has already begun. We told Pakistan to keep the borders open. (Apparently they told Turkey as well) We will bring these people between 12 and 14 months.”
Only the number is not clear. US, which keeps account of everything, did not keep a record of who it worked with.(!) And although these people and their families are mentioned, there are no families as mentioned in the propaganda news, there are only young men.
In August 3, 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Health statement, number of Covid-19 cases for this day was 24,832 people, number of death for this day was 126. The tweet of the Minister of Health about today’s Covid-19 table was as follows.
“The number of daily cases approached 25 thousand. If we follow the rules of combating the epidemic and get our vaccinations, we will take action to end the epidemic. Like first-dose vaccines, second and third-dose vaccines are also extremely important.”
The fires continued. Especially in Mugla province and Antalya, many settlements and natural areas were under threat. In one video, a beekeeper who lost most of his hives was saying these words. “Suddenly, flames were starting in another place. It was as if the flame had feet.”
Here is the link of the zoom.earth image like I added at the beginning, showing the fires in Turkey on August 3.
The people of these regions live by olive production, generally small cattle breeding, and citrus production. Now many people’s olive or orange trees were burned. Animals likewise. As the beekeeper I mentioned above said: “If my bees were still alive, there wouldn’t be a plant left to land upon anyway.”
Speaking in a BBC News Turkish video about today, a young woman in Manavgat said:
“Firefighters came to us from all provinces and districts. But nobody directed the fire brigades. We burned here right under everyones nose. While we were burning like this, a person did not come and give us a glass of water. Where did all these people’s years of hard work go? These people earned by farming.”
Some districts of the provinces in the region are municipalities belonging to the AKP government party. The president of one of them would say I was misunderstood the same day, for his speech the day before.
In his speech he said:
Mayor of Antalya’s Gundogmus district, Mehmet Ozeren, praised the fact that TOKI(Housing Development Administration of Turkey) would build a reimbursed house in return for the houses damaged in the forest fires that caused great damage in the county.
Broadcasting the interview with a YouTube channel called “Alanyalı TV” live on his Facebook account, Ozeren talked about the support to be given to citizens whose houses were burned. Stating that a total of 50 thousand TL, 35 thousand TL and 15 thousand TL, will be provided to the citizens whose houses have become unusable, Özeren said that 10 thousand TL will be given to the citizens whose houses were damaged by the fire.
Ozeren said, “For our citizens whose houses have become unusable, TOKI will build a house with payment for 20 years. Maybe it is not right to say this, but those who have very old houses will wish that our house burned down too. The consolation grant of the state for them is too much,“.
At those hours time when the mayor said he was misunderstood, an elderly citizen was having a nervous breakdown in the middle of the road of Marmaris in an interview on KRT TV by saying followings:
“Now he tells me to evacuate the house. How can I evacuate my house? Is it easy? Where were you, where were you five days ago! I call the forest department, they say to me, we will send, we will send. They’re making fun of me! Is there such a thing! Damn them all! Damn those who run this country! Is that so? They say everything is on fire. Yes it can burn, but if it burns you will put it out. You stepped aside. You call The Turkish Aeronautical Association’s planes “antiques”. But the pilots say that give us a task and let’s put it out. It was so simple to put out that fire. There was a fire in the same place 18 years ago. I called then, a fire-fighting plane had arrived, water poured out. I’ve been begging for five days, begging for last breath. It’s been 5 days now, they just arrived, there wasn’t even a fire brigade. Do you know what the fire department said to me? Let us know when the fire come to the houses, we will intervene that time. Come on, intervene! Such an administration, such a system! No, not for me! I have served this country for 77 years. This must not like that! First, this country was burning without flame, it has been burning without flame for 20 years, now it is burning with flames. It must not like that!
In another corner of the fire area a peasant woman speaking to DW Turkish was saying:
“We had no security other than olives. How are we going to pay the taxes to the state now. We can’t pay them. We couldn’t pay the water bills. We could not get fodder for our animals. We don’t have a pension. We don’t have an annual. No one is thinking about you.”
Also, during the day, the fire in Milas would come within 3 km of a thermal power plant towards the evening hours.
On the same day, Turkey Foreign Ministry replied to the USA about ‘Afghan immigrants’: “
The US statement will cause a major migration crisis in our region and increase the suffering of Afghans on their migration routes.”
If you ask how much area was burned in total, in this one week:
When Journalist Fatih Portakal, tweeted this, on August 4, the Minister of Health would add the following tweet for the daily Covid-19 table:”The number of cases is well above the 20 thousand limit, which we accept as the limit. It is in our hands to reduce the number of cases below this limit. Get your vaccine, stay away from crowds.”