“The Turkish government pretends we are doing fine”

Seda Naz Günday, 24, Ankara (Turkey)

In Turkey the authoritarian government is trying to make it look like everything is fine. We only have lockdowns on weekends. They announced this new curfew at 10 pm on Friday, April 10, just two hours before it was going to go into effect. This caused chaos: everyone panicked and rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food. 

During the week, the stay-at-home order only applies to those under the age of 20, who might be asymptomatic carriers, and over the age of 65, considered more at risk.

My family and I have however self-quarantined for over 50 days and I feel very lucky for this. We are some of the few who could afford it: as most businesses are still open, the majority of the Turkish people have no choice but to go to work or they won’t be paid.

Whenever you go out, you have to wear a surgical mask. When the government made this mandatory, it also decided to distribute masks for free, banning shops from selling them. You have to apply for them on the government website, and after you do so you will receive a text message with a code that you’ll show in the pharmacy to pick up your masks. This initiative has however been problematic for many reasons. First of all, you are only allowed to receive five masks every ten days, which is not enough as experts say you should change your mask every four or five hours, and most people work five days a week. Also, some people cannot apply through the website as they have no access to the Internet; this is especially the case in rural areas. There have also been issues with the code, as many never received it despite successfully filling out the form.

Across the country, mayors belonging to the opposition party have started services to deliver free food to those in need. They also set up accounts for donations, but both initiatives were banned by the government, which pretty much told mayors: “Don’t try to be the government.” This is nonsense — mayors are part of the government and the reason why they exist is that a president simply cannot keep track of everything.

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