COLUMNISTS
Responsibility for deaths
Turkey has been mourning the deaths of nine people, mostly children, who drowned when torrential rains hit Samsun.

The downpour caused a river to overflow, inundating the first floors of an apartment building complex built by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ). The fact that floods in Samsun mostly affected the TOKİ complex has triggered criticism about whether the location of the complex was chosen without taking into consideration the risk of natural disasters.

No one can know when and where death will occur, but also no one would invite death, thinking, “I will die anyway,” says Nuh Gönültaş from the Bugün daily. We have to take measures against death whenever possible. Just this week the bodies of the pilots recently killed in the Syrian attack were found in the Mediterranean Sea; a girl died when she fell into a huge hole in the road in İstanbul; a man in Ankara who had survived two previous earthquakes died when the road he was on collapsed. These are open to discussions of whether these deaths could have been avoided or not, but the deaths of the people who drowned in a house the state built for them over a streambed is not something just controversial, it is clearly a major mistake on the part of the state, he says.

Taraf’s Ahmet Altan violently criticizes the state, saying: “Here in this country, the state kills the poor. I know these deaths won’t have any political outcome. We will hear some extremely brazen speeches of those leading the country, and perhaps one or two engineers will be blamed; that’s all. Then the incident will be forgotten. We will continue listening to dreams about the great empires we are going to build in the Middle East, and we will see the largest mosque built in İstanbul, but no one will ever remind them of the fact that they actually killed people. The state, which has been established for the purpose of protecting people’s lives, builds houses where people easily die by drowning. I read a minister’s statement, “The state has no fault in this.” I guess then the fault belongs to the river that overflowed. Or perhaps the fault belongs to the poor who trusted the state and moved into those houses. But the fault is not of the state because the poor always die in this country. Not one or two at a time; they die in the hundreds. A total of 366 workers have died in workplace accidents in the last six months, meaning two workers die per day. So, does the state care for the poor? It did not offer an accounting for the Uludere victims. Will it give an accounting for the ones who drowned in a streambed?”

2012-07-05