At a group meeting with earthquake victims in Hatay, DEM party co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları denounced the government’s absence and inaction, and accused the ruling party of abandoning the earthquake victims, adding to suffering through negligence.

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If the government had mobilised all its resources immediately after the massive earthquakes on 6 February, the damage could have been halved, said Tülay Hatimoğulları, co-chair of the People’s Equality and Democracy Party (DEM), at her party’s weekly group meeting, which was held on Tuesday in quake-stricken Hatay instead of the Turkish Parliament.

In her speech, Hatimoğulları accused the ruling party of neglecting the earthquake victims and adding to their suffering through inaction.

The meeting, which was attended by party members, MPs, numerous earthquake victims and Peace Mothers, served as a platform to remember those who lost their lives in the quake and to condemn the government for its lack of presence and support in the aftermath.

Hatimoğulları, herself born into an Arab-Alevite family in Hatay’s Samandağ district, went on to criticise what she saw as discriminatory policies, particularly against Hatay’s diverse communities, including Arabs and Alevis. She also condemned the government’s efforts to expropriate land in the region, arguing that such actions have led to significant displacement and suffering among the local population.

In her speech, the co-chair of the DEM party called for the repeal of recent legislation which she said would make it easier for the government to control land in disaster-affected areas and could lead to further injustices against the citizens of Hatay.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes, Hatimoğlulları had recounted her first-hand experience of the chaos that followed the quake. She highlighted the government’s failure to provide adequate support, leaving locals to fend for themselves, relying on volunteer crews and limited resources.

“I was there from the early hours. For two days in some regions, three days in others, the state was absent. None of you were there,” she had said in parliament, addressing MPs from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

“A year has passed and the state is still absent,” Hatimoğlulları said in her speech on Tuesday, echoing what she said a year ago.

Hatimoğlulları concluded her speech by pledging to continue to stand up for the rights and needs of the earthquake victims and to turn mourning into resistance. She emphasised the determination of the people of Hatay and the wider community affected by the earthquake to rebuild and recover, despite the challenges posed by government neglect and mismanagement.