Friday, February 10, 2023

Turkey Earthquake: The Communist Party (TKP) on the frontline of solidarity and material aid

From the very first time after the devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Turkey and parts of Syria, the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) mobilized all its resources in order to provide aid to the affected people. Members and supporters of TKP participated in rescue teams while others gathered humanitarian aid in numerous cities across the country. 

TKP has issued reports for the days following the earthquake, describing the situation and the role of the Party in providing actual solidarity to the earthquake-hit people.

On the second day of the earthquake, Communist Party of Turkey strengthened its emergency desk and upgraded the capacity and scope of its operation in the region. As of Monday evening, solidarity spots were launched, in order to support search and rescue activities, to identify the needs of our citizens affected by the earthquake accurately, and to ensure that aid materials from all over the country are safely delivered to the region. 

A food truck with 6 cooks and a capacity to serve for 3000 people per day, which was provided by Sarıgazi District House in Istanbul, set off for Antakya. Our comrades at the region worked at the emergency desk set up in Hatay Antakya Armutlu and solidarity spots in Türkan Saylan Park and Akkapı Children’s Park in Adana, Güneykent Frida Café in Gaziantep Şahinbey district and Koşuyolu Park in Diyarbakır. As of Tuesday evening, another solidarity spot formed by our comrades became active in Pazarcık, Kahramanmaraş, one of the most severely destroyed regions. 

Our teams in the region include health workers and specialists equipped with search and rescue and first aid skills. Our rescue teams have so far rescued 16 people from the rubble, while our medical teams have helped more than 200 injured. Currently, over 300 TKP members are working in the region affected by the earthquake, including Central Committee members. In line with the needs identified by our teams working in the region, solidarity activities and collection of aid materials at District Houses will be coordinated. 

There is a profound need for blankets, fleece, tents, sleeping bags, flashlights and hygienic materials, and the first part of these aid materials collected with an immense effort at the District Houses were sent to the region. One truckload of supplies from Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir is about to reach the region. As of Tuesday night 3 trucks and 1 bus of aid materials are on their way to Antakya and a truck is on its way from Erzurum Karaçoban to Malatya. 

Daily Report on the 3rd Day 

We are on the third day of the great disaster. Turkey has enough medical doctors, equipment, tents, fuel and planes, yet it can be clearly seen that there are immense delays or difficulties in the delivery of necessary humanitarian and material aid to the region, their arrival to the hands of the correct contact persons and establishing control in general.

The observations of TKP member healthcare workers are proving this. There are no search and rescue operations in the south of Hatay Dörtyol. In Samandağ, another province, citizens bring whoever they can pull out of rubble to the hospital. In the state hospital corridors, amputation operations are being performed without adequate sterilization procedures due to the lack of materials. Orphaned dead bodies, orphaned babies are lying in the rooms. In Adıyaman, despite there is a sufficient number of doctors and specialists, chaos is overwhelming, patients cannot be registered. Adana and Mersin City Hospitals cannot provide sufficient information either. Those who could be rescued out of the rubble have to face the cold and pressure ulcers, given the lack of time and coordination, so important in such a critical moment. Logistical support is deeply needed in Samandağ and İskenderun, where the death toll is mounting.

However, there is more. People have to move on with their own organizational resources, as the government is completely bankrupt to a degree that they cannot even identify the number of collapsed buildings. Aid is delivered by trucks and provided to earthquake victims in a systematic manner.

On the third day of the earthquake, TKP’s operational zone was extended with a greater number of teams, together with the participation of TKP Central Committee members.

TKP General Secretary Kemal Okuyan and a delegation consisting of Central Committee members have reached the region as of today.

TKP General Secretary Kemal Okuyan shared his initial impressions on an interview for soLTV. Okuyan explained that the Party is considering how to disseminate the limited amount of resources most effectively, given the broad extent of the zone and the massive needs. It would be impossible to expect that such a severe and destructive earthquake would not leave permanent damage, said Okuyan, stressing that the government, making false imperial claims, led to the total collapse of the country. Okuyan told that there is a terrible traffic jam at the entrance of Hatay, yet, vehicles of religious sects are allowed to pass, having the support of the government behind them. TKP General Secretary mentioned the lack of any organized authority in Antakya and İskenderun, while reminding that the declaration of state of emergency would not be able to change anything and that TKP is not interested in the political outcomes of the state of emergency at the moment. “A response would be given in case the government would exploit the state of emergency, but our priority here is to provide help to as many people as we can” said Okuyan.

The needs of our people in the region are diversified and increase day by day, while new data regarding the extent of the collapse are brought to light.

People who are rescued out of rubble, who are looking in despair for some news on their family and relatives, those who have no shelter to take are waiting in the region. Rescue teams note that the number of people that can be rescued alive is expected to drop as of the third day of the earthquake.

Teams formed by TKP members and friends reconstruct their work daily, based on the updated needs of our people and scientific knowledge on disaster management.

Teams by TKP are restructuring their efforts in line with the needs changing day by day and the scientific information on the crisis management following the earthquakes. We are mobilizing our growing human and logistical resources, thanks to solidarity efforts, against the freezing cold, hunger and thirst. The need for diapers, socks, blankets, sleeping bags, winter tents, fleece, winter shoes and boots, water, and dry food is becoming vital.

As of Wednesday, the number of TKP members in the region have reached over 400. Up to a hundred members form the TKP rescue team, which sustain their efforts in the field. While some of our members stay at the emergency spots in Hatay Antakya, where the need is greatest, some others have reached other collapsed regions, including Hatay İskenderun, Kahramanmaraş Nurhak and Malatya.

TKP operates with an emergency desk in Hatay Antakya Armutlu, Adana Türkan Saylan Park and Toros District House nearby it, Adana Akkapı District House in the vicinity of Anada Akakapı Children’s Park, İskenderun Gürsel Mahallesi District House, Gaziantep Şahinbey Güneykent Frida Cafe and Şehit Polis Mehmet Demir Park nearby it, Diyarbakır Huzurevleri Mahallesi District House and solidarity centers in Maraş Pazarcık, as well as the Kahramanmaraş Nurhak, Malatya and Osmaniye solidarity centers that are to be launched today. Appeals for help are assessed and followed, communication is established, status updates are provided regularly.

TKP party offices and district houses continue collecting aid materials and categorizing them, to be delivered to the earthquake region. Aid materials from Erzurum Karaçoban have reached Doğanşehir Polatlı village of Malatya, a village of 400-households, to which no preceding aid was delivered. Another truck of aid materials took off from Iğfıdr,  and is on its way to Malatya. Besides these, 8 trucks of aid materials from İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Eskişehir and Çanakkale were safely delivered to the region; another 3 are expected to arrive tonight. 2 vans from Gaziantep and Adana are to arrive in Nurhak and Pazarcık. 

Our people are confronted with an extremely severe disaster. Misery, fatigue, despair and death prevails, so does fury. Our people are growing furious at the absence of the state and the shamelessness of the government. They are protesting the Minister of Transportation and other authority figures that arrived from Ankara, kicking their cars and pushing them to leave. While Erdoğan asked the people to remain patient via TV channels, our people’s patience is exhausted. While Erdoğan refers to the “destiny”, people witness the reality with their own eyes.

The government resorts to internet bans and censors in the face of these reactions and tries to create a false image with the absolutely obedient media organs.

Yet this image is falling apart. It has to. Our people prove that they can only trust themselves, and there is no room for hopelessness unless we keep our solidarity. /