Tears also burn
During a solidarity visit to the southeastern province of Gaziantep, which was hit by a devastating suicide bombing incident where children and women were torched, where 54 people died and dozens were injured, I visited them at the hospital. When I saw the eyes of the young Sema, then I understood that even teardrops burn…
This trip was to declare that we are a “nation” against terror…
We flew to Gaziantep early in the morning with a group of female entrepreneurs to support Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin. Those on board the plane were lawyer Kezban Hatemi, who is a justice and conscience fighter, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, a name who fiercely struggles against all kinds of violence and especially domestic violence and violence against women, Nilüfer Bulut, a businesswomen who has channeled the business world as a “support fund” to Anatolia, academic and civilian entrepreneur Deniz Ülke Arıboğan, and Sare Aydın, head of the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), who fights to include women in society and investments.
And, we are present as two men, me and Mehmet Emin Ekmen, a former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy…
I came to think that all along my professional life, for almost 30 years, I have attended rallies, opening ceremonies, meetings and I have always flown with delegations which were predominantly male.
For the first time, the delegation consisted of two men and five women.
There is such a positive atmosphere… We talk about Turkey all the way… We talk about the love for the nation, but there is no lecturing or valor… We have smiles from time to time and laughter.
First, family and kids are asked about. Mrs. Sare Aydın said, “She is growing fast, unbelievably. I left her with her dad, sleeping before I came here.”
Then came other questions such as, “What can we do where in Anatolia? How can we support? Let us mingle children regionally. Let us make projects for the semester vacation.”
Of course, the number one topic is the resistance of the people against the coup attempt… Kezban Hatemi made perfect analyses, as she always does. She explained how she exchanged text messages with the Istanbul security director that night.
Vuslat Doğan Sabancı explained what happened at Doğan Media Center on the night of the coup attempt. She told how the putschist captain who entered the daily Hürriyet building shouted in the corridors, “Shoot, whoever resists, shoot them…”
Sare Aydın gave examples of how they helped children from orphanages get into a profession. Prof. Deniz Ülke Arıboğan gave examples of the research they were to conduct at the University of Oxford on women and children who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
I notice along the way that despite so many serious matters, there is such a positive and smiling sensitivity in the plane that it feels they are able to heal all wounds. They are like an ointment to the city.
I joked, “I have been flying with male dominated delegations for 30 years. From now on I will fly with women.” Ekmen joined me in my wish.
After landing at Gaziantep, we see that Mayor Fatma Şahin has truly renewed the city. Prof. Aşkın Asan, who came from the Black Sea province of Trabzon, agreed.
But we entered a heartbreaking atmosphere in the hospital, when we saw a 6-year-old child with a burnt face, when I saw tiny Damla with her hands bandaged; I had a hard time pulling myself together….
Elderly patient Fadile, who had been burnt by the bomb, hugged Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya. She hugged Fatma Şahin, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı and Kezban Hatemi one by one, holding them for a while.
There was only one sentence crossing my mind: “Tears also burn.” My eyes watered before I left the room.
Despite all this pain, when I see the solidarity of women, I am still hopeful. Women bring us into the world. After visiting the hospital in Gaziantep, I am now sure that, despite all the treachery and atrocity experienced, they will also bring peace to earth and heal our wounds.