Metropolitan municipalities in Turkey started solidarity campaigns. The government via its interior ministry blocked their bank accounts and the prosecutors promptly started investigating the mayors. They then started distributing loaves of bread during the weekend curfews - only to meet the same outcome.
In Eskişehir and Mersin again metropolitan municipalities’ soup kitchens that served the most needy inhabitants since over a quarter of a century are closed –again by order of the interior ministry. A moral boosting local municipality music truck doing the rounds in Kadıköy neighborhood of Istanbul (where I happen to reside) is stopped dead in its tracks and fined by the police. A field hospital with a capacity of a thousand beds put in place by Adana metropolitan municipality is closed by the interior ministry. Needless to add to the tally the fiercely targeted HDP municipalities where elected mayors are forcefully replaced by appointed bureaucrats even after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, whereas in the developed countries the state distributes financial aid to its citizens, the president gloriously declared a campaign to which all citizens are invited to contribute. Bureaucrats are informally obliged to earmark a certain percentage of their salaries. Some news websites like Oda TV and Independent Turkish are banned, some others like Halk TV and Fox are fined by the so-called Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK). A news piece concerning Presidency’s Communications Director Mr. Altun’s leasing a prime land next to his family house overlooking the Bosphorus from the Foundations Directorate for a sum equating peanuts is censored under terror charges. The news piece about the President’s son-in-law and powerful Finance Minister Mr. Albayrak buying again prime lands along the Kanal Istanbul project is also not denied but still banned.
Istanbul’s popular metropolitan mayor Mr. İmamoğlu invited the government to convert the presently unused İstanbul Atatürk Airport hotel and terminal buildings into field hospitals. Instead, the government seized the occasion, inviting (by-passing the bidding process) the same construction company that built the presidential palace to destroy once and for all the billion dollars-worth runways of the airport and start building from scratch an unnecessarily giant hospital to be completed in months’ time.
An amnesty law is rushed through the parliament releasing petty criminals of all colours immediately and keeping the “political prisoners” like Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş behind bars indefinitely. And the members of parliament are sent to obligatory vacation for 45 days right after this delivery. Finally, President Erdoğan in his last “address to the nation” which was duly broadcast via all available means defiantly stated that “our country will eradicate all (its’) media and politics viruses.”
Now, given the above cited context and conditions, how can one muse about how the new coronavirus will affect the world order? How can one get into refined analyses to discuss the future of globalism? Meaning is reached only where absurd ends, isn’t it? Yet we can never get there let alone even merely attempt to get there. Whereas the government urges desperately its citizens to share part of their income and already thinning family economies with it, it simultaneously boasts via its foreign minister about how Turkey is the third country in the world when it comes to sending foreign aid for helping the global combat against the pandemic.
No need to add that all aid boxes are duly stamped “Presidency.” By way of conclusion: The national unemployment emergency fund has 132 billion Turkish liras in its coffers. Millions of workers will be pushed to leave without pay. They will try and make ends meet by receiving 1.168 TL each for months. Assuming a ballpark figure of two million workers, the sum to be spent for them reaches only 5.3% of the said public fund. Where is the rest of the money, our money? Go figure. Or brace for imminent terror charges if you dare to ask the question, rather.