Inaction to rescue victims viewed as massacre by Turkish Cypriots

Inaction to rescue victims viewed as massacre by Turkish Cypriots
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"The people here live only for their children, and they killed our children," Turkish Cypriot journalist Aysemden Akin has said.

The deaths of 35 Turkish Cypriots, most of them young members of a volleyball team, in the earthquake in Turkey's southeastern city of Adiyaman is viewed by the islanders more as a "massacre" after it came to light that no operation had been carried out by Turkish teams for their rescue, Medyascope's Senem Gorur and Okan Yucel reported.

Noting that the sentiment in Cyprus was optimistic in the beginning on Monday as people felt confident that search and rescue operations were launched and that the children would soon be rescued, the editor-in-chief of Turkish Cypriot media Bugun Kibris, Aysemden Akin, said:

"[Turkey's] Ambassador Metin Feyzioglu announced that operations began around noon in the rubble of the Adiyaman hotel the children were staying at. I guess he told that to calm us, or maybe this was actually the information he received. The families desperately strove to have him arrange a flight. They were not allowed to take one till 5 or 6 PM because there were reportedly none except emergency flights. They eventually got into a plane and arrived at the scene around 9 or 10 PM, and they saw that there was no rescue operation taking place."

Nicosia (Lefkosa in Northern Cyprus) deputy for the main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP), Dogus Derya, said that no rescue team, including any team of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD), even approached the rubble of Isias Hotel after the earthquake and that the first search and rescue operation was launched by a Turkish Cypriot team who arrived from the island.

The team did not have the necessary equipment, however, and the items necessary to lift heavy blocks could be provided only after the third day,

"On Thursday the lifeless bodies of children began to be recovered from under the rubble," Derya added.

Akin confirmed the deputy's account, saying:

"We saw when we were waiting for the children to be rescued that there was nobody around the rubble. Not a spotlight, not any equipment, nothing. Only a building shattered to pieces. It was the worst remains of a building I ever saw. Then teams from Northern Cyprus arrived, and they started sifting through the rubble. It later occurred to us that we shouldn't have waited for the Turkish state to start working to rescue our children. We eventually realized that there was no state there. We realized what a paper tiger it actually was and how it abandoned our children to death."

She continued:

"People here are now suffering a great trauma. It's a small community and it's on fire. It's an irreversible wound for this community. It showed us that we are absolutely alone. I've been working as a journalist for 20 years. I never saw this community so united except for around the Annan Plan. The people want justice for these children, and we do not have confidence that those responsible for their deaths will be brought before justice by the government of the Justice and Development Party."

She added:

"But they won't have any place to run away to. After the decision of the Turkish judiciary we will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, we won't let it go. This people here live only for their children, and they killed our children."