Families say children placed in deadly fire dormitory in Adana’s Aladağ ‘just to keep it open’
Umut Erdem - ANKARAThe families of children killed in a dormitory fire in the southern Turkish district of Aladağ in November 2016 have said the local directorate of the Education Ministry placed them in that dormitory simply “to keep it open.”
The families recently met with a parliamentary committee formed to investigate the deadly dormitory fire that killed 11 children and one adult on Nov. 29, 2016 in Adana province.
The father of one of the victims, identified only by his initials M.A., said the provincial director of education in Adana placed their children in the dormitory as he said the other dormitory is closed.
“The immunity of the director should be lifted. He placed our children in there [dormitory] saying that the other dormitory was closed. But they only placed our children in that dormitory, which is run by the Süleymancılar [religious group], in order to stop it from closing. After the incident they did not call our children martyrs,” he told the committee.
One mother said she lost her two children in the fire, adding that she sent them there to receive education as she herself was not educated as a child.
Another victim’s father stated that children staying in the dormitory were forced to do cleaning of the building by its administrators.
“My daughter said she was forced to wash dishes, clean and do laundry, even being woken up at 3:00 a.m. to do so. She said she even fell asleep during lessons because of this,” he said.
The father also said he made a complaint about the incident to the dormitory manager, who only replied that they were taking religious education and that was more important than other lessons.
On May 4, the indictment prepared by the Aladağ Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office leveled involuntary manslaughter charges against seven suspects over the fire, seeking prison terms between two and 15 years.
Seven suspects had been arrested on Dec. 4, 2016.
Ten students, an instructor, and the dormitory manager’s 4-year-old daughter were among those killed in the fire.
On Jan. 23, the court ordered the release of the four suspects pending trial, who are members of the Aladağ Aid Association to Course and School Students. The other three suspects, including dormitory manager Cumali Genç and the head of the association, identified only as İsmail U., remain under arrest.