My name is Berke and I live in the most crowded, wealthiest city in Turkey - Istanbul. I'm a 22-year-old production assistant as well as a digital collage and short film maker. And the reason why I'm here is because I'm going to tell you some stories about Turkey. I want to tell you what is really going on in my country.
First of all, I'd like to explain why I wanted to be a blogger on The Huffington Post. The reason is simple. Everything you are reading and watching about Turkey is distorted. How do I know this? Well, between January and June this year I was living in Malta. During this time I watched a lot of television, especially the news - BBC News, Sky News and CNN. It was an exciting time, revolutions were happening across the Arab world and dictators were being overthrown. I also watched reports and many TV adverts about Turkey's rapidly growing economy and the new investment opportunities in my country. I'm not saying that these things are lies. I'm just saying that they are not the whole truth.
To be honest this was going to be the opening paragraph of my first blog...But since then a couple of serious things have happened in Turkey and so I have decided to post it later and talk about the breaking news instead.
Let's start with the earthquake which happened on 23 October in the city of Van. The death toll has risen to more than 520, some 1352 others were also injured and an unknown number are still trapped under rubble. However this is not a new situation for Turkey. Let's remember for a second the 1999 İzmit earthquake. It happened at about 3am local time, took 45 seconds, killed over 35,000 people and injured over 60,000. Oh, sorry. Did I say it killed? Nope. Our f**king city planning and poorly-built buildings killed those people! And guess what? Six months later we had sentenced to jail a couple of scapegoats and almost forgotten what had happened to us.
So, to get back to the Van earthquake. Twelve years on and the same thing has happened again. We have only just realised, but the geologists, city planners and scientists reported years and years ago that Van, in the case of any natural disaster, would be completely defenceless. Most of the buildings are poorly built, the streets aren't wide enough for the emergency services and the hospitals are barely equipped for daily requirements. In short, they said that this city was not ready for a natural disaster. Well, it would be the same in Istanbul. It doesn't matter where or when it happens the outcome will be same until our government fulfils its civic responsibilities and protects its people against such occurrences.
I also want to talk about the cross-border operation that I think you may have heard about. Last week, after the second biggest terrorist attack against the Turkish army in our history, Turkey decided to launch a cross-border operation into Iraq against the terrorist organisation PKK. They did this on 23 October. Actually, cross-border operations against the PKK aren't big news for us because we're accustomed to them. Kurds and Turks have been fighting for more than 30 years especially around the Iraq border. Ten years ago, before the current government came to power, these clashes had almost died out but since then they have been increasing again. I'll tell you everything about this government next week, I'll tell you who they are, how they came to power- everything. But before that we have another topic. The cross-border operation.
Well, as I said the PKK attacked the Turkish Army and killed 24 soldiers in just one night and so the Turkish army retaliated. But there is a huge difference between this operation and previous ones. This time it's a military operation on the ground whereas the attacks in the past have been air attacks on PKK bases. More to the point the government didn't inform us about what they were doing and what they were going to do. Even I didn't know that our tanks were in Iraq until one of my friends in Europe told me that it was on Sky's breaking news. It was a nasty shock because I used to get this kind of news from our media, not from Reuters.
Okay, war hasn't been declared but it still scares me as a Turkish citizen when the government withholds this sort of information. The majority of Turkish people just want peace. This conflict is just about politics. In total this conflict has cost us the lives of 30,000 Turkish citizens in last 30 years and it's all the fault of our politicians.
In the coming weeks, I'll tell you more about my country. Let's say this was just the start.
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