The Blood in His Hands

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Türkiye is in deep shit for overseeing a sweeping 2018 amnesty program that “forgave” faults in millions of buildings across Türkiye.

About half of Türkiye’s stock of buildings, or about 13 million units, do not comply with standards, according to a 2019 estimate by Türkiye’s own environment ministry.

Erdogan’s government approved buildings that had breached a broad set of basic licensing, design and safety rules.

Urban planning specialists said the program was a vote-winning measure pushed through before the 2018 presidential election that Erdogan won.

The amnesty program works if you pay a “fine.” It gives retroactive permits to structures built without planning permission, or not up to code. Those standards include fire protection and seismic standards.

The BBC quoted Pelin Pinar Giritlioglu, head of Istanbul’s branch of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, assaying that between 70,000-75,000 buildings in the earthquake zone had “benefitted from the policy.”

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition CHP party, said the government had turned “houses into graves” through the amnesty and on top of that “took money for it.”

Yes, along the way, huge sums of money (those so-called “fines”) were involved. The program collected about US$4.2 billion, according to Türkiye’s environment ministry.

A resurfaced video making its rounds shows Erdogan boasting about granting amnesty for buildings that didn’t meet earthquake construction codes, according to local media.

At least 70,000 buildings in areas where the recent devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck and killed over 40,000 people, were approved by the Erdogan government. As a result, 345,000 apartments are known to have been destroyed, according to the BBC. In total, an estimated one million Turkish people are now homeless due to the earthquake.

The video shows Erdogan on his electioneering campaign trail.

One stop was in Kahramanmaras, the recent earthquake’s epicenter. There, in 2019, he said: “We have solved the problems of 144,556 Kahramanmaras citizens with the amnesty.” In other words, upon paying a “fine” the Erdogan government turned a blind eye towards shoddy building standards, buildings could then be erected quickly and people would have houses.

The disaster, which has now surpassed the massively fatal 1939 Erzincan quake in fatalities, has killed over 46,000 people in Türkiye and several thousands more in neighboring Syria, with countless number of buildings toppled because the Erdogan government has accepted money to deliberately to ignore building standards.

Erdogan should be punished for committing mass murder!

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