Our shared wretchedness

No matter how deeply repressive regimes plant seeds of hatred, even if the peoples of this geography view each other as “enemies,” at the end of the day, they are “neighbors.” The earthquake has reminded us of this once more.

The suffering of this region we call a “homeland” knows no end; neither does its wretchedness. Our peoples crushed under the weight of repressive regimes continued to suffer in the wars that came back-to-back in the recent period.

As we had been worrying about Syria and Karabakh, the earthquake piled on top of it all.

We lost tens of thousands of our lives. And we continue to lose more.

As if the Covid menace was not enough, we also lost many to war. As if the moral burden of those who died in hospitals without seeing their grandchildren and not knowing what their illness was, was not enough, we also entered into war with neighboring countries.

We slit each other’s throats. We had our youth shot and executed for no good reason, only so that we could plant seeds of hatred.

No matter how deeply these repressive regimes wish to plant their seeds of hatred, even if the peoples of this geography view each other as “enemies” in some form, at the end of the day, they are “neighbors.”

The earthquake has reminded us of this once more.

I deeply wish that it had not.

We lost tens of thousands of lives. Still many others are fighting to stay alive from their positions buried under collapsed buildings.

The social and political structures that force us to remember that we are neighbors only through natural disasters be damned!

The countries Erdogan had threatened with showing up suddenly one night stood ready one morning at his door to provide aid.

The “insolent Europeans” criticized incessantly by Erdogan immediately delivered emergency aid packages. European Union (EU) nations, unable to land at the airports they had built for their own gangs of five using EU financial support programs, visited the disaster zones by bus.

The airports of the country they had overflowing with airports collapsed in a single day.

The buildings made by engineers and contractors who were trained in the universities they founded in every city of the nation collapsed in a single day.

And what does that mean? It means that the job is not done simply by establishing universities or approving airport constructions.

Those who disregarded Turkey's hundred years of academic experience and hundreds of years of engineering capital to "recreate the country" are now watching the collapse of the very country they had kept standing with plastic surgery.

Even Armenia sent aid although 120,000 Armenians in Karabakh are currently struggling for life under the Azerbaijani blockade.

I hope that the seeds of hatred planted in us have been shaken by this earthquake and have fallen on dead soil, never to flower again.

I hope that they have fallen away, off our backs and our hearts, so that this hatred in our geography ceases at long last.


As all this is ongoing in Turkey, the situation is much graver in Aleppo, another city hurt by the earthquake. Since Syria’s airspace is banned for flights, there is not even an iota of international aid. Armenia is one of the few countries that have sent rescue teams to Syria.

Before Aleppo could even heal the wounds of war, its buildings riddled with bullet holes crumbled to the ground.

Those left under the rubble are trying to be rescued through the efforts of Aleppians by themselves.

Where electricity and water had been available for a few hours per day prior to the earthquake, it is only on for an hour nowadays. Syria has become a place whose connection to the world has been severed, who the world cannot – and perhaps does not – want to see.

Europe acts as if Syria is no longer even on the map; not even one deputy touched on the issue of Syria in parliament.

We have well understood the contemporary system of those who govern the world. If you have a form of returns from one country, then you also have both aid and investment there. They will simultaneously run to your help in an earthquake and criticize your politics.

But Syria offers no returns. And so, there is no earthquake in that country in the eyes of Europe.

Two young men talk at the cash register in the store today. They tell each other the story of the photograph of the father who refuses to let go of his daughter’s hand encased in the rubble. But they use such a language that it seems as though they are upset at not being the ones to capture that scene, to upload it onto Instagram.

They are upset not at the dead, but at not being able to exploit its returns.

When the average European youth’s mind is brainwashed to such a degree, I find myself missing my neighbors.

Those neighbors whom Erdogan could not invade suddenly one night, but who ran to our doors one morning…

My deepest condolences for all of our loss.

*Aris Nalci: He began to work at Agos in 1998 with Hrant Dink and his colleagues. He took on various roles as news director, editor, and editor-in-chief. He presented programs on IMC television and for some time took on the position of news director. In the same period, he worked as the editor and presenter of Gamurc – Kopru, Turkey’s first program about minorities which continues on ARTI TV. At various civil society organizations, Nalci worked in the field of minority rights, created exhibitions, and wrote reports. He is one of the editors of the book “1965.” He is also the translator of the book “Paramazlar,” published by Evrensel and Kor publications.

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