This must be hell

There is a picture in front of me. In the photo, villagers from a small southeastern town of Turkey, alongside several deputies and politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are trying to put out a fire. Once again, there are many wildfires in this predominantly Kurdish part of Turkey. The Turkish military started operations after the Turkish government declared a curfew in the cities of Diyarbakir and Mardin on July 25. Rural fires followed as always. These fires destroyed the ecology in the areas of Cudi, Dersim and Lice in the past, now the ecological systems of Kulp and Nusaybin are being consumed by these wildfires.

But of course, most people in Turkey are oblivious to these ecological disasters, and many who are aware of them brush their worries aside – there is a “war on terror” after all. What about the environmentalists and nature lovers you might ask. They are silent as well! Other than some of the environmental groups in these Kurdish provinces, no one dares to speak up. Turkey’s environmentalists have abandoned the people and ecology of these Kurdish regions for some time now.

Save for a few opposition news agencies, the Turkish media is not reporting these wildfires either. One can see the destruction a fire left behind just by examining Mesopotamia News Agency’s pictures from the region. A villager, Leyla Yıldırım, told the agency that the firefighters did not try to put out the fire either. She said the firemen said, “we would’ve intervened if it was a house fire. We do not intervene if the fire is in the countryside”. Özgürü reported that the villagers had to put out the fire in another small southeastern village themselves. One of the villagers Terfa Yıldırım said: “We extinguished the fire, but couldn’t save the trees. We didn’t have anyone to help us.”

The villagers know that no government agency is going to rush to their help. Many of these fires originate from military operations in the region. There are wildfires all across these provinces. But there is no one to help the people, the goats, the lambs, the trees, the daisies.

But it is not just the real fires burning the Kurdish region. Mezopotamya News Agency reported that the military banned calls to prayer in a small village after the villagers buried a PKK fighter, Ali Öncü. The agency also said the village’s imam took leave of absence during those three days. This is the hell we live in, created by the Islamists specifically for us. They are even willing to deny others’ religious freedom.

Another news item came from the western coastal town of Ayvalık. Three babies were among six dead after a boat carrying 16 people en route to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos island capsized. Ayvalık District Governor Gökhan Görgülüaslan, said the deceased were members of Fethullah Gülen Terror Organisation (FETÖ), a group the Turkish government accuses of carrying out the failed 2016 coup attempt. Three babies dead, barely toddlers! Instead of a message of grief, the officials claimed that they were “FETÖ members”. But it does not even stop there. Firstly, the municipality refused to supply hearses for the deceased, later the police arrested Hasan Aksoy, who had just lost his son and wife in the accident.

One of the gatekeepers of this Turkish hell, Cemile Bayraktar, a well-known Turkish media personality said after the accident: “An average FETÖ member can throw their children into the Maritsa River on the orders of Fethullah Gülen, but this should not prevent you from having mercy on these young kids. That compassion is the biggest difference that separates us from FETÖ members.” How compassionate! Compassionate enough to believe that a mother could willingly throw her child into a river! This must be the Islamists’ version of compassion.

Just thinking of everything that has happened in this country in the last three years makes me believe that hell is not a place in the after-world. If there is a hell, this must be it.