Peoples’ Houses protests opening of Trump’s shopping mall risking workers’ lives

The Peoples’ Houses organization denounced the hypocrisy of the government officials and the mall owners while protesting in front of the Trump mall indicating, “Erdoğan and his ministers are pushing the people to death with the normalization plan, however they, themselves, are hiding in their comfortable, safe homes.” Challenging the dangerous plan, the activists voiced their concerns, “If you want normalization, sure, let’s normalize, but be first, you Mr. President. The Minister of Economy Berat Albayrak (Erdoğan’s son-in-law) keeps saying he supports the small business. Sure, we want to see him come and mingle with the shop owners and small businessman. Let the Minister of Employment and Work go and work in a factory and show us how it is done. Let the Minister of Health replace a health worker who has no mask, no glove, no protection for a day. Then we too will normalize!”

Peoples’ Houses protests opening of Trump’s shopping mall risking workers’ lives

When the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, following Trump, pushed for opening up the country’s economy, the number of people who would lose their lives due to the coronavirus disease did not enter the plan. Erdoğan called his plan “normalization” while Trump called it “opening the country”, but they were one and the same plan: start production, start selling, start buying, start the economy, human lives be damned.

The Turkish regime is trying to downplay the devastation the government has brought on to the country by initially ignoring and denying the pandemic even when the world had already been seized by the virus. Acting late and delaying an appropriate response due to both economic and political reasons, the country was caught unprepared. And now the pandemic related deaths are in the thousands.

However, the president Erdoğan has had enough. The man-made economic crises that has devastated Turkey has turned into a tragedy when the pandemic came on top of it. Erdoğan thinks, just as he has learned from his mentor Trump, that simply sending people to shop will end the catastrophe he brought to the entire country.

The Turkish government ordered all shopping malls to open in an effort to start-up the economy that has nose-dived even before the pandemic. As in the factories and other work places, the lives of the workers and shoppers are at risk, but the government is hell-bent on doing something, anything, that has the potential to start the money flowing. However, this decision to open the malls was challenged by many organizations and unions citing the dangers. One compelling argument was why the beaches, natural environments or parks were staying shut while the shopping malls were being forced to open?

To protest the dangerous decision, the members of the rights group Peoples’ Houses staged a demonstration yesterday in front of the Trump’s shopping mall in Istanbul. Answering Erdoğan’s “normalization” plan, the workers carried a banner that read, “This is not normal!”

Gathering in front of the Şişli shopping mall owned by the US president Trump, the activists said, “Erdoağan recently announced his normalization plan to open the economy, however we just can’t seem to normalize. This game of ‘normal’ is not a normal for us, those who have been stuck inside with no work, no income, no job, no money, for the last two months.

“For them the ‘normal’ is to open travel to touristic places risking peoples’ lives. Their ‘normal’ is to open the shopping malls for the benefit of the mall owners risking the lives of the mall workers and the shoppers” announced the rights group.

In the past weeks, in several factories around the country, the workers had stopped work when their co-workers were identified as having the coronavirus. They were forced to go back to work with one factory owner even hiring street thugs to force the workers back to work with no protection, masks, gloves or gowns.

The government thinks the coronavirus only spreads during the weekend. AKP government of the president Erdoğan conjured a strange plan that forces people indoors to their homes on the weekends to protect them from the virus only to allow everybody to go back to work during the weekdays.

The government also thinks the virus spreads only during the May Day celebrations because strangely a curfew was announced on the May Day when the progressives, labor, unions and human rights associations have celebrated the day of the labor traditionally. The government has been hostile against any and all celebration of May Day in the past with brutal police attacks on the participants, and the curfew this year was brought just on that day, to protect public health, of course.

The health care workers who had demonstrated demanding PPE, the personal protection equipment, had been attacked and not allowed to speak by the Turkish police.

While health care workers and doctors’ associations strongly denounced the false numbers given by the government they were accused by the government and criminal investigations were started against the health professionals.

The Peoples’ Houses organization denounced the hypocrisy of the government officials and the mall owners while protesting in front of the Trump mall indicating, “Erdoğan and his ministers are pushing the people to death with the normalization plan, however they, themselves, are hiding in their comfortable, safe homes.” Challenging the dangerous plan, the activists voiced their concerns, “If you want normalization, sure, let’s normalize, but be first, you Mr. President. The Minister of Economy Berat Albayrak (Erdoğan’s son-in-law) keeps saying he supports the small business. Sure, we want to see him come and mingle with the shop owners and small businessman. Let the Minister of Employment and Work go and work in a factory and show us how it is done. Let the Minister of Health replace a health worker who has no mask, no glove, no protection for a day. Then we too will normalize!”

Even when the country was unable to find any protective equipment, Turkey started a show of “solidarity” with its creditors by sending masks and protective gowns to the US and the European countries. After a long pause, the government announced that masks would be available to people through pharmacies, which ended up pharmacies putting up signs, “Don’t ask, we have no masks, don’t bother us, there are NO masks!” In a letter few days after the masks were delivered to the US from Turkey, Erdoğan asked the IMF he was asking money for, to remember this humanitarian gesture when deciding if Turkey would get new loans or the terms of the loans. He did not get the loans he was asking and the Turkish lira went tumbling down the drain against the US dollar.

And when the masks finally started to trickle down to the Turkish people, it was a disappointment because they were made of material so thin, people joked that it saying the masks adhered to the transparent style fabrics worn by sexy models. They were so thin and useless.

As expected, the masks and gowns sent to Germany and Britain were returned back to Turkey after being declared unfit, useless and unusable. All this happened while the people in Turkey were still demanding and protesting to receive the masks promised by the government.

Peoples’ Houses members promised to be on the side of the people most vulnerable with the “normalization” plan of the government: “We will defend the life and health of the people.”

They also repeated the demands, “Payments for everyone to afford daily groceries; free PPE protection for everybody; free and public healthcare for everybody; a budget not for the capital but for the people.”

Arriving at the scene to protect Trump’s property, the police detained the activists to “determine who opened and carried the banner.” They were taken to the neighboring police station but after protests the detained activists were set free.

Sendika.org news (M.B.)

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