Deputy: Turkey's last multicultural center Hatay on brink of obliteration
A deputy for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said after his observations in the earthquake-hit province of Hatay that the province with its capital Antioch (officially Antakya) is the last remaining "multicultural settlement" in Turkey and that it risks obliteration after the catastrophe caused by the twin earthquakes on 6 February.
Paylan, a member of the Armenian community in Turkey, told bianet's Nur Kaya that the huge shortcomings in providing temporary shelter for the victims in the earthquake zone have already resulted in significant displacement of people, and that the situation is exacerbated by security concerns.
Having visited other quake-hit provinces of Diyarbakir, Malatya, Adiyaman, Maras and Antep before arriving in Hatay, he said:
"The situation in the entire earthquake zone may be defined as dystopian. I mean, if this had been in a movie, the scenes would have been hardly convincing. The urban centers of Adiyaman and Maras have almost turned into ghost towns. They have been largely depopulated. The main reason is the destruction, the severe damage caused by the quake, but it is also because of the shortcomings in public relief efforts. On the 11th day after the earthquake, the number of tents erected in the region is still extremely insufficient. It does not even respond to 5% of the need. This resulted in displacement and depopulation. We are faced with a terrible destruction, and unfortunately we do not have a central authority that will respond with an appropriate moral and humanistic attitude."
Asked about the situation in Hatay, Paylan said:
"Hatay is probably the last multicultural center in Turkey; home to diverse identities and religious communities. Alevis and Sunnis, Christians and Muslims, Turks and Kurds live as neighbors in harmony here, but we are now faced with the risk of losing this last remaining social habitat."
"There are two main reasons. First of all, maybe a mere 1% of the building are inhabitable now. Secondly, there is great concern over rumors that some jihadist groups may target the people who would choose to stay. State forces should step in to respond to such concerns. The homeless survivors should be provided with both temporary and permanent means of accommodation, and public funds should be effectively used to ensure this. Necessary security measures should also be urgently taken by state forces."