What I saw in Antakya

13 Şubat 2024 Salı

I went to Hatay on the anniversary of the February 6th earthquake.

Hatay, Antakya is my homeland, where I spent my childhood. I was there in the early days of the earthquake as well. Like every person from Antakya, I watched with agony how the unique history of the ancient city was destroyed.

A full year has passed since the earthquake. A whole 365 days. It felt as though the earthquake had occurred just a month ago in the city. I couldn't believe it.

Yes, most of the rubble has been cleared. However, only 10% of the hundreds of thousands of needed homes have been delivered, with construction on the others continuing. The roads are a sea of mud. The infrastructure is being repaired. Clean water is a major issue. Electricity in the city is erratic. Antakya is trying to heal its wounds, but it is clear that it is being treated as a stepchild.

The most fundamental problem in the city is housing. Citizens trying to live in containers face major issues. They are trapped in 20 square meters with their large families. As I wandered, the most common lament I heard was, "They will turn Antakya into Syria. Their numbers have increased incredibly after the earthquake. They have also taken over the trade." Are they wrong?


Did you see the march of the ruling party's mayoral candidate in Reyhanlı? If not, please watch it.

Another father spoke about how children cannot receive education. Another public institution has taken over a sound school. Children are receiving shift education in one of the few remaining sound schools. "Children can't get an education," he says. Almost none of the damaged schools in Hatay's Antakya, Defne, and Samandağ have been repaired. Most of the sound school buildings have been transferred to other institutions. Another lament came from families who couldn't find their relatives. One of the young people I spoke to said, "Neither dead nor alive came out of the rubble, my father," another said, "We couldn't find my cousin." Another is searching for their children.

The Association for Solidarity with Earthquake Victims and Relatives of the Missing (DEMAK) announced that the fate of 145 people, including 38 children, is still unknown in 11 provinces. The association's first request was the establishment of a commission in the Turkish Grand National Assembly to find our missing, for which two motions were submitted to the Parliament, but both were rejected. Look, how can political parties remain indifferent to this call?

Can one be happy to find the body of a loved one? We have been brought to such a state. Despite everything, we want to have a gravestone to visit.

This statement was made by the association's secretary, Sema Güleç. Güleç's son, Mustafa Batuhan Güleç, is also missing.

The people feel abandoned. An earthquake victim who came up to me shared: "One of the people the city should hold accountable, the provincial health director, resigned just after the earthquake and became a candidate for the AKP. What about the governor? The governor also resigned and became a candidate for the AKP. Mayor Lütfü Savaş ran for election again. Contractors are illegal, and we are left with our deaths. We are the guilty ones because we died!"

It was announced that Lütfi Savaş is running again as a candidate from CHP. He protested the moment he entered the first commemoration event. CHP is also trying to find a candidate. A proposal was made to artist Haluk Levent, but he did not accept it. Other parties are nominating candidates. Yesterday, the TİP announced its candidate. Former football player Gökhan Zan was among those who played a significant role in making Hatay's voice heard during the earthquake. He became a candidate for TİP. I spoke with him. He had previously been a candidate from the İYİ Party.


Dear Gökhan Zan said the following:

"My candidacy from the İYİ Party was to make Hatay's voice heard. My current candidacy has the same goal. I want to serve these lands. I want to serve the people of Hatay. I am a child of this place. There is so much work to be done here. We need to lift Hatay back up. The mayor of Hatay Metropolitan Municipality is among those responsible for this disaster. Instead of accepting this responsibility and stepping back, he was renominated by his party. This decision was made without consulting the people of Hatay. My candidacy is not just against Lütfü Savaş, but against the ruling and opposition parties that left Hatay alone or are responsible for the earthquake. If a common candidate who can lift Hatay emerges, I will withdraw my candidacy."

As I leave Hatay, I see that not only the people buried under numbered graves are helpless.

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