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October 24, 2012, Wednesday

Lesson learned from Van

Turkey is proud of having passed the Van earthquake “test,” as most of Van province, which was hit by a destructive earthquake last year that killed nearly 600 people in combination with less powerful aftershocks and destroyed many of the buildings in the area, has been almost completely rebuilt one year on thanks to public donations and efforts by the government to reconstruct the destroyed homes.

It is great victories and trauma that hold societies together, says Akşam’s İsmail Küçükkaya, adding that the powerful quake in Van was one such event. The Turkish people felt the pain of the quake victims deep in their hearts and mobilized more quickly than ever to rebuild Van from the ashes in a year. More importantly, it made the people in Van feel like they were not alone. It was a message of pure solidarity from the rest of the country to Van, where people courageously oppose and resist terrorists and their heinous attacks, he noted.

Yeni Şafak’s Yasin Doğan also applauded the government for its hard work in Van and said when the state takes one step towards its people, people take 10 steps towards the state, and this is surely what is going to happen in Van in the future. Previously, the state was blamed for negligence, ignorance and discrimination in these Kurdish-populated areas, but now it has finally been cleared of this. Today, the state is trying to improve lives in the east and Southeast, while the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) tries to ruin them, Doğan noted.

Bugün columnist Ahmet Taşgetiren, on the other hand, wrote that now is a good chance to compare the sensitivity of the terrorists for their “Kurdish brothers” to that of the state for its Kurdish citizens. Taşgetiren refers to some 400 people, most jailed for alleged links to the PKK, who have been on a hunger strike for about a month to demand increased rights for Kurds and improved jail conditions for PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Those people are among thousands who were forced to quit school and join the terrorist organization; they are either used as suicide bombers or made throw Molotov cocktails. And now they are told to die in a hunger strike. None of the Kurdish politicians or activists go and tell those people to stop sacrificing their lives and not to die only to allow Öcalan to live in better conditions. More importantly, it is odd that Öcalan remains silent in the face of such sacrifice by hundreds of people. So, is just being Kurdish enough to be “brothers and sisters” and to have solidarity? If so, what is the name of the miracle in Van, he asks.

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