About the Case
This lawsuit is both a legal and a life-or-death struggle for the first person in Turkey to go to court for the right to clean air. Join us in this fight for clean air because you too, have the right to clean air!
What exactly is the "My Right to Clean Air" case all about?
Abdulbari Koç, a sickle cell anemia patient residing in Batman, the city with the most polluted air in Turkey and the second most polluted air in Europe, is fighting for his right to clean air in this case.
The struggle of Abdulbari Koç begins long before this trial. The day he realized that it was Batman's polluted air that triggered his disease, which is a genetic disorder, marks the beginning of everything for Koç.
What are the causes of air pollution in Batman?
Air pollution in Batman is actually a very long-standing and unsolved chronic problem. According to official declarations from the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change, location of energy, and oil industry facilities (such as TÜPRAŞ and BOTAŞ), stubble fires, and the usage of low-quality coal provided to the citizens are the main causes of air pollution in Batman. The scientific opinion report on Batman's air quality prepared by Assoc. Prof. Hakkı Baltacı from the Gebze Technical University Earth and Marine Sciences Institute, which examines the air quality analysis of Batman between 2006 and 2020, reveals that the pollutant PM10 value exceeded the threshold values in half of the year and the sulfur dioxide levels were also extremely high in winter months.
Briefly, the residents of Batman have long been breathing this polluted air and are even unable to open their windows due to the stench of oil and coal. The air pollution in Batman, which endanger human health to such an extent, is man-made and is caused by preventable and predictable factors. In this regard, the responsible authorities have not been conducting any inspections or taking the necessary measures. The "My Right to Clean Air" case is filed against this lack of inspection.
How does polluted air affect Abdulbari Koç?
During periods when the air is heavily polluted, Abdulbari Koç has difficulty breathing and suffers from agonizing crises. The crises he goes through can last a few hours, days, or even weeks. Consequently, he spends most of the year either in the hospital or sitting in his own house without opening the window. For this reason, he is looking for ways to live in a healthier environment in the city where he was born and raised. For more than 15 years, he has submitted nearly 100 petitions for clean air, utilizing his constitutional right to petition. However, he gets no results...
Liable administrations either ignore applications of Koç, whose sole purpose is to breathe clean air, or pass him off with responses such as "we will take action " or "we're investigating." Let alone a solution being found, they file a complaint against him with the prosecutor's office in order to deter him. While an arrest warrant was issued against him without due notification and an attempt was made by law enforcement officers to bring him to make a statement, Koç was having a crisis due to the stress he was under.
Koç has finally taken legal action after nearly half a lifetime of attempting to get his voice heard in order to remind the relevant administrations of their obligations.
So, this is a lawsuit for damages of 1 Turkish Lira launched by Abdulbari Koç, whose sole aim is to breathe without suffering, against the Governorship and Municipality of Batman.
And in fact, this case represents all of us... Because Abdulbari Koç defends the right of the whole world to clean air via the lawsuit he filed with the symbolic figure of 1 TL.
Poor air quality poses a threat to every living creature that breathes, not only those with sickle cell anemia or asthma.
The aim of this lawsuit is to ensure that the state performs its obligation to keep the air clean by conducting necessary inspections in industrial facilities, implementing clean air action plans, determining pollution sources, and taking effective steps.
The acceptance of this case and Koç's victory may take the lead to the beginning of a new era in Turkey.
This case may set a precedent not only for Turkey, but also for similar worldwide occurrences, and it could serve as a powerful example in terms of the state's role and responsibilities in the fight against climate change.
Abdulbari Koç, whose sole source of income is a monthly disability pension of 900 TL and who has a disability report with a 90% disability rate, is 44 years old today. Patients with sickle cell anemia unfortunately have a life expectancy of 45 years under proper care conditions.
Abdulbari Koç may never see the outcome of his lawsuit for the right to clean air. But, because he fought fiercely for everyone's right to clean air until his last breath, a lot will change in Turkey and around the world.
You can find all the details of the lawsuit petition on this website, which was prepared voluntarily -pro bono- and meticulously by Güleryüz Partners Law Firm.
WHO IS ABDULBARİ KOÇ?
Abdulbari Koç was born in 1978 in Batman as a sickle cell anaemia patient. He struggled with medical issues from a young age due to this genetic disorder. For this reason, he had to drop out of school and could not continue after 5th grade. However, Koç did not only leave formal education behind, but also his usual life. Because of his ever-progressing disease, he was unable to enjoy his life, let alone retain a job. Even though he had temporary jobs in the early stages of his disease, his increasingly frequent seizures prevented him from holding down a permanent job. However, his desire to live and his wife, whom he married in 2015, carried him through. In a glimmer of hope, he attended İŞKUR's 6-month minimum wage apparel course for the disabled in 2017, but his disorder, once again, prevented him from working. His wife undertook all of his care, as he has lost 90% of his work capacity and is in need of constant care. As he tries to make the ends meet with his disability pension of only 900 TL, which he has been receiving since 2004, he has to use “Green Card”, a healthcare card for uninsured people in Turkey, in order to obtain the medical services he frequently needs. Abdulbari Koç describes the effects of sickle cell anaemia in the following words: “After every seizure, I feel like a toddler, who begins his life anew, just beginning to crawl, during and after every painful seizure I am no different from a child in need of constant care; it affects my life from A to Z.” As he was trying to live with this disease, he realized something very important during one of his short-term trips outside the city. Koç had fewer seizures outside Batman and the seizures he had were much less severe. Years ago, his doctors warned him of the negative effects of air pollution and smoking. For that reason, he quit smoking almost 20 years ago. However, his disease did not regress. The fact that he had fewer or no seizures during his trips was a critical point for him as he, up until that point, failed to realize the impact of air pollution on his disease. Whenever he returned to Batman, the city he was born and raised in, he had very painful seizures. Upon realization of the deep connection between the progression of his disease and the air pollution of the city, Abdulbari Koç commenced a legal battle with the authorities. For approximately 13 years, his formal complaints about air pollution were dismissed by the authorities… Abdulbari Koç’s complaints fell on deaf ears. After spending nearly half of his life trying to make his voice heard by authorities, in order to remind them of their duties, Koç is now finally taking his struggle to court. According to research, the average life expectancy for sickle cell anaemia patients, while varying from country to country and quality of life, is approximately 45 years. Unfortunately, today, Abdulbari Koç is 44 years old. Studies show that the risk of death increases significantly every 10 years, and Koç’s 44-year life has been filled with the struggle to breathe in cleaner air. Abdulbari Koç may not be able to see the result of his lawsuit for the right to cleaner air… But he will make his voice heard by defending the right to clean air for everyone until his last breath!
WE STRIVE FOR CLEAN AIR
Nothing in life can be more valuable than the air we breathe. Because the breath we take is life!
According to studies, 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe polluted air and 8 million people a year are affected by diseases caused by air pollution. Each year, more than 400,000 people's life expectancy is decreased due to air pollution-related causes.
Poor air quality is a threat not only for sickle cell anemia or asthma patients, but for all life on earth. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019, air pollution causes more deaths and disabilities than high cholesterol and kidney failure and ranks 5th among overall risk factors.
What we want to achieve with the My Right to Clean Air case is to carry out necessary inspections in industrial facilities, to implement clean air action plans, and to take effective measures by identifying sources of pollution. In short, our goal with this case is to ensure that the state fulfills its obligation to keep the air clean.
And we can't do this without you because:
Air does not recognize artificial borders drawn by human hands. Therefore, while polluted air in a province primarily concerns the region, it also poses a risk for the whole country, and even the whole world. For this very reason, the fight against air pollution requires collective and organized work.
Come and join us in this fight,
LET ABDULBARI KOÇ WIN, LET THE WORLD BREATHE CLEAN!