Physically impaired Turkish man to sue school administration after being forced to climb stairs on hands to vote
ISTANBULA physically impaired man who climbed up the stairs on his hands to vote in the referendum due to an elevator malfunction at a school used as a polling station has said he will file complaints against the school administration.
The video of Emrah Güldiken, 28, climbing up the stairs while talking about the lack of accessibility facilities in the school in the Eyüp district of Istanbul was widely shared on social media on referendum day.
“They should be ashamed. Record this so people see it. The elevator at the Eyüp Silahtarağa Elementary School doesn’t work and they told me to call a repairman and make him fix it,” he said on April 16, as another man recorded the incident on his cellphone.
Speaking about the incident, Güldiken said his request to meet with the school’s principal was denied.
“When I arrived at the school, they told me the elevator was working 15 minutes ago, but wasn’t functioning at that moment. The polling clerks and police officers tried to help me. I wanted the ballot paper and the stamp to be brought down the stairs and asked for it to be taken upstairs by a police or polling clerk after casting my vote. They told me they couldn’t bring it downstairs,” Güldiken told daily Habertürk on April 18, adding that he was distressed about the incident.
“I asked to meet the principal, but he didn’t show up. I don’t know if it’s correct or not, but he reportedly said, ‘They should fix the elevator and go upstairs.’ I went to the third floor with my own effort and cast my vote. I went to the floor where the principal’s room was, but he didn’t meet me,” he said.
Saying that he went downstairs with the help of police officers and citizens, Güldiken noted that he saw someone recording the incident while he was going to vote.
“I wanted the incident to be recorded in order for it to be sent to the Education Ministry. When I got home, I saw that it was shared on the internet and was aired on the news. There were people carrying out propaganda on social media, saying ‘They broke the elevator because he was a naysayer,’ when in fact I voted ‘yes.’ What I went through didn’t have anything to do with my vote. This wasn’t an issue of ‘yes-no.’ I was sad that the situation was politicized and my disability was abused. There were old people and they also had to use the stairs. People pulled the incident to a wrong place,” he added.