All means should be mobilized for the disaster area!

Thousands of people died and tens of thousands were injured in Turkey and Syria as a result of the earthquake of 7.7 magnitude (with the epicenter in Pazarcık, Kahramanmaras) in the early morning, massive successive earthquakes, and the one of 7.6 magnitude (with the epicenter in Elbistan, Kahramanmaras) in midday on Monday, February 6.

Only three months ago, Süleyman Soylu, the Minister of Internal Affairs, declared a nationwide earthquake drill. At the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Plan Introductory Meeting that was organized for Kahramanmaras -which is the epicenter of the earthquake- on August 19, 2020, he said “We have been working intensively here since around May 2019. This effort is an exemplary and pilot study for us. (…) We will establish our search and rescue unit in Kahramanmaras as soon as possible,” by declaring that Kahramanmaras would be an exemplary province for Turkey. Although these words were said around two years and six months ago, which is an adequate time for taking measures, we can see that his speech was only for bragging and there is no measure in place.

According to the President’s statement early in the morning, AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority) has joined the search and rescue efforts with a team of 9,000 personnel. Although this number was expected to rise, the number of personnel could be increased up to only 10,176 according to AFAD’s General Director Orhan Tatar’s statement at night. Given the population of more than ten millions in the affected region and the region’s width, it could have been understood that this number would not be enough for such effort. It is even covered in the news agencies that there are wreckage areas which have not still received rescue teams. Despite of all earthquake taxes collected so far, urban transformations and introductory meetings, working people are trying to rescue their relatives and neighbors with shovels and bare hands. In the meantime, despite of its huge budget, AFAD says that its rescue teams are partially composed of volunteers and demands financial support from the people.

The government’s acts so far have guaranteed its acts at the time of disaster. While the data is getting outdated every passing minute, it is known that there are places which have not still received any search and rescue teams as well as aids, and some roads are blocked because of the wreckage in addition to the collapsed viaducts, bridges and highways. People who are not trapped in the wreckage are struggling with heavy wind, rain and snow on their own in many residential areas. These very hours have utmost importance in order to save lives in the face of cold weather and wreckages.

Millions of people who live in the disaster region and feel the pain deeply have no more patience left.

There are two urgent needs in the face of this disaster: providing necessary equipment for rescue teams to reach every region in need, and providing protection from cold weather for our people in the affected region. The government has to mobilize all its means to ensure this. Although we are facing the crushing drama of the disaster, the things that we can do in the current situation are much more than the efforts that are being given.

All means of the state have to be mobilized: For this, all sources of the state, notably the ones belonging to the Ministry of Defense (i.e. off-road vehicles, cold weather equipment, food, sheltering and healthcare equipment), should be made available to the rescue experts and miners who have applied to go to the region. People should be saved by speedily reaching the region, and the injured ones should be urgently referred to places where they can receive healthcare. All experts of search and rescue efforts, including the miners, should be directed to the region. This is the most urgent measure that can be taken under the given circumstances, and it can save many lives.

Our working people should continue to join the mobilization of aid: Although we are going through the most grave hours of the disaster and it is not possible to send the aids to the region immediately, the upcoming days will be a period in which the needs will increase, not decrease. Providing the list of needs published by the unions and labor organizations to the affected people will continue to be vital in the upcoming days. Therefore, as the Workers’ Democracy Party, we invite all workers to join the mobilization of aid called by the unions and professional organizations. It is vital that the labor organizations lead this mobilization and ensure coordination.

These two primary steps will be life saving for our working people who are left facing the cruelty of the earthquake and cold weather because of the measures untaken. Mobilizing all means of the state and all resources of the country for the people affected by the earthquake, and delivering the aids to them in the following period have utmost importance above all today.

Besides fulfilling these urgent tasks, we will never forget that the real responsibility of all our casualties belongs to the institutions and companies which constructed and approved the projects of the roads, airports, public buildings, and houses damaged in the earthquake (most of them have been built recently). Not the earthquake but the projects prepared for a bunch of rich people are the main reason of massive casualties.

Workers’ Democracy Party

February 6, 2022

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