Why are our kids dying?
The significance of the famous French writer and thinker Albert Camus’ quote, “One way to know a country is to know how people die there,” was once again learned by us the other day, when 11 young girls and one educator burned to death in the Aladağ district of the southern province of Adana.
In a fire that broke out in a girls’ dormitory of a secondary school belonging to a religious order, the bodies of our children were found hugging each other right behind the fire escape door, which was locked. They had run toward the fire exit, with a final hope, but the door was locked. They burned to death and their bodies were like coal, in the 21st century.
This disastrous incident has left all of us with indescribable sorrow. It was an incident that was not possible to accept.
I pray God will rest the souls of these children of ours who lost their lives in a makeshift dormitory because of poverty, desolation, ignorance and desperation. Children are innocent, they are angels, they go to heaven. I pray the parents have the patience and the power to endure this misery.
These mothers and fathers had to leave their children at the hands of religious cults with the hope that they go to school, get educated and have a profession. While they are collecting their children’s tiny bodies, they are consoled with words like “This is fate.” They cannot even file complaints because of a variety of reasons to fear.
Just like the mothers and fathers of the six kids who died in a Quran-teaching course in Diyarbakır’s Kulp district when the electric heater in the dormitory overturned and ignited a fire last year. Just like the parents of the 17 girls who died after a gas bottle exploded in their Quran-teaching course which caused the building to collapse in 2008, and none of their parents filed a complaint.
Yes Albert Camus, our kids are dying like this, in a cheap way… Just like their fathers, the mine workers who died in Soma, Ermenek and Zonguldak.
Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz, the head of our country’s education system, which has been entrusted to religious communities and cults for decades, spoke about the incident.
“A check was conducted last year. There was no problem. Another inspection was done six months after that. There was no problem then either. We will draw the necessary lessons,” he said.
How is there no problem? When 11 kids were burning to death, how can there be “no problem?” Control has been done, is that so? What kind of a check or inspection was that?
Who made the inspection and according to what? Who wrote the report? Where is the report? Who approved it?
Turkey has a fire regulation that meets European standards. It is a detailed one with many pages and attachments.
Does this religious sect dormitory building suit this regulation, for instance? Detailed instructions require that exit routes, exit doors and fire escapes should be built with fire-resistant material that would endure a fire for 120 minutes. The roof of such student residential buildings must be built with fire-resistant materials. The floors should be fire-resistant. Electric, water and gas systems should be fire-proof. Fire escapes and fire exit doors should be made from material which must not let through smoke for 90 minutes.
The regulation requires extra sensitive fire alarm systems. The regulation requires that fire escape doors should not have metal door handles, and there must be push-open mechanisms on doors. Automatic fire sprinkler systems are also required.
Were they present in the building?
The roof was wooden, the floor was carpeted and the fire escape doors were locked. Material used in the building was mostly plastic.
How is it that there is “no problem?”