Video of HDP MP warning about zoning amnesty at parliament resurfaces five years later

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy Garo Paylan's speech warning against zoning amnesty laws in the parliament has resurfaced after the major destruction caused by the two major earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey last week. In 2018, a legislative package that included zoning amnesty was approved with AKP and MHP votes and praised by President Erdoğan in his speeches.

Duvar English

Zoning amnesty laws enacted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have come back to Turkey's agenda following the destruction caused by last week's major earthquakes in southeastern Turkey.

As several politicians have pointed out that those who approved the zoning amnesty laws were also responsible for the destruction, a previous speech by Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy Garo Paylan in the parliament has also gone viral.

In 2018, just prior to the general elections, a legislative package that included zoning amnesty was approved with the votes of AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers. 

At the time, HDP MP Paylan slammed the law during a speech in parliament, saying that although the ruling party was aiming to attract people's votes with this regulation, it was putting millions of people's lives in danger. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is known to have praised his government's amnesty laws many times in his speeches.

The 2018-dated amnesty law paved the way for illegal construction and lack of supervision as was the case for the previous ones. If a building is granted an amnesty and the relevant fine is paid, the structure is not demolished even though it does not meet the safety and code requirements. 

Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş shared Paylan's speech on his Twitter account by stating: "This disaster could have been prevented. What a pity. They don't listen to anyone because of their arrogance! Look how dear Garo warned us in 2018."

HDP MP Paylan's relevant speech at the parliament is as follows:

"Believe me, there has never been such a disgraceful zoning amnesty (before). There is a one-article, one-sentence zoning amnesty in the legislative package. How many people does it concern? It concerns 13 million workplaces and residences, that is, approximately 50 million of our citizens. Forty-five days before the election, a bleeding wound is brought here from the Plan and Budget Commission, not from the Public Works Commission, but from the Plan and Budget Commission, with an article, friends. Is such a thing possible? Can a 35-year-old bleeding wound be brought here in such a sloppy way in a legislative package, friends? Is this right?

Look, what kind of problems are there in the article? It says: 'I (The government) am bringing a zoning amnesty.' Well, how will this zoning amnesty be applied? Do you know how it was in (Turgut) Özal's zoning amnesty? Citizens would have a project drawn, take the project to a technician, have it approved, 'Is this building strong, is it habitable, does it meet the conditions?' This is how Özal made zoning amnesty. What does the current zoning amnesty say? 'The citizen will write his declaration, he will declare that I have a building of this square meter, this many floors and he will pay 3 percent tax. I will pardon him.' Can such a thing happen, friends?

Come, if you don't know, let me take you around Istanbul. Let's say a citizen has built a 10-story building on a two-story zoned area, where the foundation was laid for two floors, there are no columns, it was built with sea sand, and the building will collapse if you blow on it. (The government) then says (with the law): 'I will not do the inspection of this building, I will not inspect it, you come, report it, give me 3 percent money - we need money, we are very tight - I pardon your 10-story building.'

Look, this is a great burden. This parliament should not fall under this burden. This cannot be done on the eve of elections, by bribing the citizens with - and I use the expression in quotes - election bribes. If an amnesty is to be introduced, it should be done in many dimensions. Imagine that you pardon that 10-story building and there are 100 citizens living in that 10-story building. If there was an earthquake - God forbid - those citizens would be trapped under that building. Who will bear this burden then? Millions of our citizens live in rotten buildings. It is not the fault of those citizens, they did it within the framework of the right to shelter, yes, there are also those who did it within the framework of rent, but is it right to pardon it in this way without supervision?"