BY HAKKI ÖCAL
FEB 07, 2023 – DAILY SABAH
A man walks among rubble as he searches for people in a destroyed building in Adana, Türkiye, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo)
‘The power that could pry off the wall of an 11-story building extremely and bitterly chills you to the bone’
As a veteran reporter of three major earthquakes in Türkiye (the last one was the 1999 Gölcük earthquake with more than 7,000 victims and a quarter of a million people homeless) I know even in the middle of summer, earthquake areas are always cold.
Perhaps “Cold of Death” is a reality, not only the song title of the Turkish music group Desecrate. Or perhaps, the despair you feel when you see the pancaked floors of people’s homes, the nakedness you even touch when you see people’s refrigerators, couches and beds in their homes whose façade has collapsed are cold. The power that could pry off the wall of an 11-story building extremely and bitterly chills you to the bone.
There is a freezing cold not only in the disaster area but in the warm houses of television viewers of the videos from the devastated places. The ever-increasing number of victims on the screen as you watch the coverage of rescue work that trickles in from those remote places. A little girl or an old man is pulled from the rubble by the rescue workers once in a while. You see the small flags of their nation on the back of their coarse work overalls; a sparkle of humanity fills your heart; for a second, the cold face of the death goes away; tears of gratitude, blessing and thanksgiving well up in your eyes.
Like everyone else, I was keeping one eye on the television screen and one eye on the pouring of social media messages, then I saw a link sent by Andreas Mountzouroulias (@andreasmoun on Twitter) who publishes and edits the online news site “Directus.”
He and I snarled at each other when I suggested something about Greek Prime Minister Kriyakos Mitsotakis that he found objectionable, or he reported on his site that I found one-sided. But Andreas had devoted the whole site to the devastating quake in Türkiye and Syria. A group photo of rescue workers before they embarked on their huge military aircraft to reach Türkiye adorned the page. He sent the link to me so that I would not err when judging his editing skills in the future.
Among more than 30 nations doing the same thing, Andreas’ rescue team photo seemed more heart-warming to me. Perhaps we, the people in Türkiye, have been missing the siblinghood of the people or the other side of the Aegean Sea we thought lost to the ugly politics of Mitsotakis. Perhaps, we have been missing the display of that brotherhood as recently as the era of former Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras.
As Bülent Ecevit, a Turkish politician, statesperson, writer, scholar, journalist and poet, more than anything else, who served as the Prime Minister of Türkiye four times and passed in 2006, said in London in 1947:
“It is when you are homesick,
That you recall you are brothers with the Greek.”
There are thousands of brothers and sisters from several countries hunting for survivors in freezing temperatures since the first hours of this disaster that had befallen Türkiye and Syria, but I hope the 420 personnel among them are a sign of the brotherhood of the Greek people that politics could not kill.
That is the true moment of hope amid the horror.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hakkı Öcal is an award-winning journalist. He currently serves as academic at Ibn Haldun University.
Categories: Arab World, Asia, Syria, Turkey, Turks, United Nations
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