Turkey's forest fires, racism and Kurd-hunting
The ruling AKP government does nothing to put out the fire, doesn’t deny the manipulative news stories that fuel racism and it doesn’t even prevent the groups who go “Kurd-hunting”, claiming they’re out “to catch terrorists.” While Turkey’s Interior Ministry and police department state that there was no evidence of sabotage in the forest fires, why are the pro-government media and social media trolls stating the contrary?
In recent weeks, racism has flared up in several parts of Turkey. As it wastes the country’s natural resources, fails to support firefighters amid the forest fires, the Turkish government also peacefully watches racist a attack carried out in the city of Konya. What is more, the authorities openly interrupted municipal fire crews who sought to put out a forest fire in Dersim, eastern Anatolia.
The government does nothing to put out the fire, doesn’t deny the manipulative news stories that fuel racism and it doesn’t even prevent the groups who go “Kurd-hunting”, claiming they’re out “to catch terrorists.”
The government’s isn’t pouring water on the fire because it doesn’t want to, but because it’s incapable of doing so. Meanwhile, the government’s passivity towards aggressive pro-government columnists allows certain gangs to wreak havoc and fan the flames of hatred. Those gangs, which are responsible for unilateral massacres in Konya, are probably empowered and encouraged by certain actors.
But do those actors have absolute control and domination over these gangs? Can they release the gangs out on the street at any time and take them off the street whenever they want? That remains unclear.
It seems like the ruling coalition, which has long spurred and entrenched discrimination, hatred, racism and polarization to avert popular criticism, is no longer able to manage any crisis, let alone the country. In a context where the government is divided along ideological, political and economic lines, the specter of uncontrolled mobs across the country is a dark one.
In fact, while some figures close to the government are sowing the seeds of hatred and chaos, others are aware that this strategy might eventually backfire. Yet that is not because this latter segment of the governing coalition is any more rational or sensible. It has more to do with the fact that they know the government no longer has the ability to set the direction of the fire.
Turkey’s pro-government media is constantly praising the homemade drones that have a high vision capacity. Yet amid those forest fires that span a colossal area from the Mediterranean to the Aegean, this same media tries to find the “perpetrators” based on dark statements from troll accounts. But the pro-regime media never asks why the perpetrators are never caught. Moreover, if one dares ask the source of those dark and suspicious statements, one is immediately labeled a “terrorist.”
The claim that an unspecified shadowy organization called “Children of Fire” linked to the PKK, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) but also to the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has claimed responsibility of the forest fires is an odd one. If such a group existed, why haven’t any of its members been arrested thus far?
While Turkey’s Interior Ministry and police department state that there was no evidence of sabotage in the forest fires, why are the pro-government media and social media trolls stating the contrary?
Are those actors that are mentoring violent mobs fully under government control, or are they separate from the government? Those actors encouraged the targeting of bar associations that called for the prevention of racist attacks against Kurds. They even castigated those who called the massacre in Konya a “racist attack.” Now, they are guiding and further aggravating lynching groups like the one in Manavgat.
What is the way out of all this? Opposition leaders are unable to answer this question. They are preparing themselves to take power but they didn’t dare condemn the murder of seven people from the same family in Konya, they didn’t even issue a condolence message for an entire day. They were unable to go to Konya despite a call from HDP Co-Chair Mithat Sancar.
The question we asked the government also applies to the opposition. How does the opposition, which wishes to rise to power in a somewhat “Teflon” manner, calculate or assume it can reap any benefit from this much evil unless they take an effective counter-stance?