by Songül Yücel, Coordinator Middle East, Istanbul Turkey
Dear Suse, Halinka and the women of Courage,
First of all, we are sorry for this late answer because we saw your mail after days. Thank you very much for thinking of us. We need every kind of solidarity these days. Even though we are far apart, we know that your heart is with us and we are grateful for that. As you can imagine, we are living in terrible days.
We, in Istanbul, set off as soon as we received the news. More than 10 million people live in the earthquake zone and many of us have family and friends there. We have all been in intense solidarity since the first day. Unfortunately, the houses of our families were destroyed, both our friends and the families of our friends were trapped under the rubble. For the first few days, the state was a bystander. Relatives and friends pulled people out from under the rubble with their bare hands. Many of our relatives died in the concrete because rescue teams did not arrive despite the voices come from under the rubble for days. In the first few days, no search and rescue team came to the cities destroyed after the earthquake. Literally no team! No cranes to lift the rubble, no professional search and rescue teams, no state officials! The state literally left hundreds of thousands of people under the rubble and left them to die. This happened in front of the eyes of everyone living here. Health workers and independent search and rescue teams took the initiative to go to the earthquake zones even though the ministries did not assign them. Volunteers from all over flocked to the region. Our solidarity kept alive the people trapped under the rubble, the people who survived the earthquake with injuries, and the people whose houses collapsed and left them on the streets.
We have been in hell for the last two weeks. We lost a comrade in Hatay, Onur Kopran. He was the Hatay representative of the Union of Struggle (in TR; Mücadele Birliği) and he was just 33 years old when he died. It was on the 10th day of the earthquake that we were able to pull his body out from under the rubble.
The entire family of our friend Canser Dayanır, who was giving a speech on behalf of Turkey at the young women’s session at the 3rd World Women’s Conference, was trapped under the rubble; we rescued her mother and sisters with our own efforts, but unfortunately we could not save her father Hasip Dayanır.
This terrible catastrophe affecting 11 provinces, has brought complete devastation. In these provinces, where the families of Canser, Seher, Gizem, Sena and many other comrades from EKA live, the devastation is immense. The beautiful, ancient and multicultural province of Hatay was almost completely destroyed. The earthquake did damage that no war could ever do. The city center of Hatay was completely destroyed. The destruction in the districts and villages is less, but no one can enter their homes. Very strong earthquakes continue to occur. Most recently, there was another earthquake centered in Hatay the other day. Many damaged buildings collapsed by this earthquake and people were again trapped under the rubble.
We have seen that you have started an aid campaign. Thank you very much for this. We know that it will take a very long time to heal our wounds. But there is still a lot to do today. The biggest need here is winter tents and supplies like dry food and canned food. In the first week, trucks of supplies arrived from all over the region, but now this aid has decreased a lot. The state confiscated some of the aid, so some of the trucks could not reach the people in need. But this support needs to continue. Earthquake victims will have to live in tents for a very long time. This will take months. That is why it is very vital for them to have continuous support.
We will be going through such a time as the theoretical seminar of the Women’s Conference approaches. We propose to dedicate the theoretical seminar to the women who lost their lives in the earthquake. Maybe the conference can be dedicated to both the women who lost their lives under the rubble and the earthquake victims. This would be a good solidarity for women living in earthquake zones.
We embrace you all with love.
Turkish Representative of Labor Women, Emekçi Kadınlar / EKA