Earthquake victims protest in Turkey

Featured image: Protesters breaking down a police barricade during a protest in Hatay. Source: Yeni Demokrasi

On the 6th of February it was the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit southern and central Turkey and north-western Syria. Around 60,000 people were killed and millions were left homeless. On the anniversary there were large protests in the areas affected by the earthquake, demanding those responsible for the scale of destruction to be held accountable and demanding improvements to their conditions. Many are still living in containers and tents in unbearable conditions, facing increasing unemployment and exploitation. We have earlier written on the struggles of the earthquake victims. In some places the State also attempted to prevent people from protesting and commemorating the anniversary on their terms, such as in Malatya, where the governorship banned all kinds of commemorations of the earthquake without permission from the governorship.

In Antakya Köprübaşı, Hatay, which was the worst affected region of the earthquake, protesters gathered at 04:17, the time of the earthquake a year ago, in Yunus Emre park and held a commemoration. After this, the police barricaded the area and was not allowing the protesters to leave the park. The barricade was broken down by the crowd, who proceeded to the rubble of the Rana apartment building to commemorate those who died in it. The Hatay Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Lütfü Savaş was met with booing and ”resign!” shouts from the crowd.

Also the health minister Fahrettin Koca, who attended the official commemoration in Antakya, Hatay faced the fury of the masses, and was booed at during his speech. “Government resign!” and “We do not give up our rights!” the crowd shouted. Also in Adıyaman, the governor Osman Varol and the former minister Adil Karaismailoğlu were booed at.

The crowd booed at Fahrettin Koca during his speech. Source: Yeni Demokrasi

In Antakya Defne a march was organized by revolutionary and democratic organizations. In the march, it was highlighted that the people will not forget and forgive, but want the responsible to be held accountable, and that it was no earthquake, it was a massacre. In the speech of the joint platform which organized the march, many improvements in the conditions of the victims of the earthquake were demanded, such as that houses are rebuilt with no additional fees or the owners of the houses going in debt, electricity, water and natural gas services should be improved and these should be distributed free to the earthquake victims, measures should be taken to protect women from violence and soup kitchens should distribute food to those without a home in the winter.

In Samandağ, Hatay, protesters carried banners with slogans ”Don’t Forget, Hold Accountable”, “Don’t Forget February 6, Don’t Let It Be Forgotten!”, “The State Kills, Not Earthquakes”, and “The People Will Hold the Murderers Accountable”. In the speeches it was denounced that the State had left the people alone with dealing with the destruction, and that the destruction was man-made, not ”fate”.

In Tarsus, a march was held. Slogans “Don’t Forget February 6, Don’t Let It Be Forgotten”, “No Forgetting, No Forgiveness, No Saying Goodbye”, “This is Not an Earthquake, This is a Massacre” and “We Will Destroy the Order of Plunder” were shouted, and in the speech the role of the government in the destruction was denounced. It was also denounced that despite an additional budget having been allocated to rebuilding, in many places nothing is happening. In the end of the speech it was highlighted that the solution is to struggle against the corrupt system, which is hostile to the people, workers and nature.

Protest in Tarsus. Source: Yeni Demokrasi

Protests were also held in Maraş, Adıyaman, Malatya, Kilis, Osmaniye, Adana, Antep, Diyarbakır and Urfa.

In addition to the protests, the revolutionary music group İsyan Ateşi published two songs in commemoration of the victims of the earthquake.

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