İnci Hekimoğlu- Artıgerçek, 29 March 2018
Hamzaoğlu who have been held in prison for 48 days now for saying “war is a public health problem” is our “Onur” (honour) and the shame of the political power. Yes, he was “in”, but science could not be held there. Five days ago Kocaeli Brach of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers declared the rate of cancer deaths in Dilovası as 33.7 per cent, meaning that within this year at least 15,000 persons will contract cancer.
The Minister of Environment and Forestry from AKP was confessing:
“Knowing that plants in iron-steel industry let poisonous gases emerging from the process of melting out to nature without any filtering, and that plants in chemicals and paint do the same with solvent vapour… that volatile substances from coal storages in Dilovası, an important port, cause serious pollution… we asked the Organized Industrial Zone to take necessary measures.”
The Minister’s words were not limited to these. He also said Dilovası was under a deadly threat and they were working on a project to transfer people living there to somewhere else.
The date was April 2006 and the Minister was Osman Pepe.
Just remember, there were information pouring from various points in İzmit Bay, from Gebze, Dilovası and Tavşancıl, and barrels containing toxic substances were coincidentally found in places where they were hidden as “evidences of crime.”
Further, it was just one year ago that a survey by Kocaeli University found 33 of every 100 deaths occurring in Dilovası are cancer-related, a shocking finding that led to the establishment of a parliamentary investigation committee.
Since it was the time when the AKP still needed hypocrisy to hide its real intentions public reaction was taken into account and the ruling party felt compelled to ease the public by giving promises about measures to be taken.
It may seem incredible, but looking back we see, besides establishment of a commission, Eyüp Ayar, the commission chair from AKP talking about the completion of work to declare Dilovası as disaster zone.
What happened after will seem very credible since penalties to those deliberately committing environmental crimes were suspended for 2 years upon the request of Minister Osman Pepe, the same person who had talked about vital threats, investigations and punishments.
İzzet Çetin, a commission member from the CHP held a press conference accusing Pepe: “(He) gives clues about toxic barrels, mention some firms and says ‘I know who they are but I cannot make it open’. It comes to my mind too; do you have some common interests with these firms; why are you afraid of making it open? Here I name those polluters in Dilovası: Diler-Demir’, Çolakoğlu, Polisan making local people cry by advertising as ‘smiling paint’ and DYO…”
Statements by Çetin included some very important assertions posing threat not only to inhabitants of Dilovası but many others.
“In Turkey scrap comes in mostly from Russia and Iraq recently. There are claims that scrap from these two countries is highly radioactive. These claims are made by people working within.”
There are sayings that steel cookers, spoons and forks are produced and marketed by processing these scrap materials.
Since our social memory is weak and people are stupefied by shocking events coming one after other Dilovası dropped from the agenda for a while.
Until Prof Dr Onur Hamzaoğlu, Head of Public Health Department in Kocaeli University made public in 2011 the outcomes of the survey they had been working on for 3 years.
According to the findings of the survey the level of long term exposure to Particulate Matters (PM10) is 3.5 times higher in Dilovası than what is set as standards by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and 1.7 times higher in Kandıra. Hamzaoğlu summarized the situation as beyond danger line” and “risk”.
Some circles were quite irritated when Hamzaoğlu said heavy metals were detected in postnatal colostrum of mothers and stools of infants in Dilovası and Kandıra and it would be risky to go to capacity increase in industrial plants in the area.
Upon the complaint of two mayors from the AKP, Hamzaoğlu was investigated for announcing the outcomes of a survey that was yet not concluded; but he won all cases during a period when courts were still guided by law.
Hamzaoğlu won these cases against big bosses saying “if the question is making profit, human health is a detail”, their visible and invisible partners and the political power of capital.
In other words, he won a struggle that he waged against leading power centres by taking various risks.
Hamzaoğlu, held in prison for 48 days now for saying “war is a public health problem” is our Honour” and a shame for the political power.
He was in, but science could not be kept in. Five days ago the Kocaeli Branch of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers announced that the rate of cancer related death in Dilovası is 33.7 per cent.
Sait Ağdacı, head of the local chamber said the rate of cancer related deaths in Kocaeli Province is 18.9 per cent for the year 2017 while it is 12.5 per cent globally and 12.9 per cent in Turkey.
This means, this year at least 15,000 persons living in Dilovası, with population of 47,000 according to official figures, will contract cancer this year.
Yes, we should all side with Onur, but it must be first of all the task of Dilovası inhabitants who let their town governed by AKP.