Parliamentary commission to probe deadly dormitory fire in Turkey's Adana
DHA photoThe four political parties in Turkey’s parliament agreed on Dec. 1 to establish a committee to investigate potential negligence in a deadly fire at a girls’ dormitory in the southern province of Adana.
The move came after lawmakers from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) proposed a motion in parliament’s General Assembly.
Eleven children and one adult lost their lives, while 24 others were injured on Nov. 29 in a fire that erupted inside the dormitory building in the Aladağ district of Adana. While inspections and investigations continue over the deadly incident, early reports suggest that major negligence led to the fire.
Speaking on behalf of AKP, the party’s Bartın deputy, Yılmaz Tunç, said there were laws and regulations for the safety of children but that there were problems in implementation.
Tunç said that due to a number of reasons, students and parents preferred private dorms, noting that the number of empty beds at public dorms was three times the number of students staying at private dorms.
The authority to inspect the opening of new dorms, pensions and similar residential areas was assigned to the Education Ministry in 2011, he said, noting that because some students and parents were choosing private dorms over public ones, the inspection of such private facilities was of critical importance.
According to the law, dorms are inspected by local authorities twice a year but may also be visited by ministry officials at various times, said Tunç.
Meanwhile, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on Dec. 1 the inspections were not made regularly at the Aladağ dorm.
Speaking about the commission, CHP group deputy chair Engin Altay said the final report of the commission should not reflect the understandings of different parties but a united approach that reflects human rights, children’s rights and education rights.
Altay said the reason for such fatal incidents was the fact that “education had been put into the hands of some religious groups and communities deliberately and systematically.”
The dorm was reportedly run by the Süleymancılar, a religious order that grew out of a conservative Naqshbandi milieu but has focused on religious education since the end of the 1950s.
CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who is set to hold a rally against a presidential system desired by the AKP, will visit Aladağ on Dec. 3 to commemorate the victims of the fire.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the only entity responsible for the “disaster in Aladağ was the government which had dragged Turkey into the chaotic environment of today, as it failed to meet our children’s need for basic shelter.”
On Dec. 1, one more person was detained as part of a probe into the fire, raising the number of those rounded up to 14. While three of the suspects were released, 11 are still being held in custody.