Leaders off to Van for Bayram holiday
President Abdullah Gül and opposition leaders will head to quake-hit Van on Nov. 6 to mark the first day of the Kurban Bayram holiday with the victims of the earthquake which devastated the region last month.
Gül is expected to attend a special early-morning feast prayer in Van, after which he will meet with local officials to receive a briefing on the relief effort before heading to the worst-hit district of Erciş, where he will visit a tent city.
Gül had planned to go to Van earlier, but dropped the idea in order not to hinder search-and-rescue efforts and divert the local authorities’ attention to protocol.
The president wrote on his Twitter page on Nov. 3 that he had donated one month’s salary to a fun-raising campaign for Van.
The leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, will also be in Van on the first day of the feast, along with his wife, Sevim Kılıçdaroğlu, and several party officials. Kılıçdaroğlu will visit injured people in a hospital in Van and then go to a tent city in Erciş, where a sacrificial slaughter will be performed on his behalf.
After spending the night in Van, Kılıçdaroğlu is also planning to visit soldiers at a border outpost on the morning of Nov. 7.
Most of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmakers, led by co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, will also spend the first day of the holiday in Van, the party said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to spend the four-day feast in Istanbul, after which he will also go for a second visit to Van.
Separately, Kılıçdaroğlu will go to Silivri Prison near Istanbul on Nov. 9, the last day of the Feast, to visit jailed CHP deputies Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) sent a plane with humanitarian aid to help people affected by the recent earthquake in the Turkish province of Van, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA said.
The plane carried 40 tons of relief materials, medical supplies and humanitarian aid, in addition to 500 tents, “to the friendly Turkish people through cooperation and coordination between the SARC and its Turkish counterpart,” Minister of State for Red Crescent Affairs, Joseph Sweid, said in a statement.