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Emily Thornberry: Istanbul findings ‘deeply disturbing’

Istanbul airport (1)
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Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has condemned what she called an ‘apparently callous disregard for safety’ in the construction of the world’s largest airport

The $12 billion new Istanbul Airport – which involved a host of leading UK architects and engineers – was dubbed ‘the cemetery’ by workers because so many were killed during the build phase, according to a joint investigation by Construction News and The Architects’ Journal.

Reacting to the investigation, Thornberry said the deaths were part of the ‘terrible repression’ imposed on Turkish people by the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

‘These are deeply disturbing findings, and I want to thank Construction News and The Architects’ Journal for bringing them to light,’ she said.

‘At a time when the media is focused on what President Erdoğan is doing inside Syria, we must never forget the terrible repression he is inflicting on his own people, and in this case, the apparent callous disregard for the safety and rights of construction workers at Istanbul airport.

‘The world needs to wake up and realise we are dealing with an increasingly authoritarian regime, which will stop at nothing to stay in power, and does not care how many innocent lives are lost in the process.’

We are dealing with an increasingly authoritarian regime

Meanwhile, RIBA president Alan Jones said the investigation’s findings underlined an ‘urgent need’ for common global standards to improve site safety around the world and called on architects to contribute to this effort.

He said: ‘The number of injuries and fatalities on construction sites worldwide is totally unacceptable. Architects have a key role to play.

‘Our Codes set out clear health and safety requirements for RIBA members to protect those affected by their construction projects, and we encourage practices to promote and embed the principles of the UN Global Compact, covering human rights, labour laws, the environment and anti-corruption, into their project teams and supply chains.

‘Working internationally brings opportunities, but also significant challenges. Architects must use all their influence and agency to drive the highest standards, wherever they practice.’

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