Mazıdağı Co-Mayor who lost 10 relatives in the fire: DEDAŞ is a big problem here

Co-Mayor of Mazıdağı Municipality, who lost 10 of his relatives in the fire, blamed DEDAŞ for the devastating fire between Amed and Mardin and the state's agricultural policy in the region.

The fire that broke out in a rural region between Mazıdağı district of Mardin and Çınar district of Amed on the night of 20 June affected an area of 66 kilometres covering the villages of Kelekê (Yücebağ), Dirînê (Yetkinler), Tobînê (Köksallar) and Halberekê (Yazçiçeği). So far, 14 people have lost their lives and 78 people have been injured in the fire. The village of Kelekê was affected by the fire the most. 10 people lost their lives in the village, where condolences are being paid on one hand and the victims are being buried on the other hand.

While the cause of the fire is expected to be clarified in the coming days after the investigations to be conducted, Hamdin Demir, Co-Mayor of Mazıdağı Municipality, who lost 10 relatives in Kelekê village, spoke to Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) about what happened on the day of the fire and the background of the disaster.

Demir stated that his children called him when he was leaving the district centre in the evening and informed him about the fire. Demir came to the village after informing the fire brigade and saw the villagers try to extinguish the fire by their own means. He stated that some tractors were caught in the flames and the villagers were fleeing as the flames spread everywhere with a big wind coming suddenly. Demir said that when they tried to warn the residents of the nearby village, the flames spread towards that area and that the emergency ambulance services line 112 was constantly busy.

Stating that the district and the Metropolitan Municipality were in a state of emergency from the first moment of the incident, Demir pointed out that the Governorate and AFAD (disaster and emergency management presidency) teams intervened too late. "The Governorate and the District Governorate did not intervene until the flames were about to be extinguished. The villagers intervened by their own means. There was great chaos. Sometimes there was no mobile phone signal."

Stating that deaths occurred as a result of inadequate intervention in the fire, Demir said, " DEDAŞ (the electricity energy supplier in the region) comes to the village with hundreds of soldiers when a transformer is to be intervened and persecutes the villagers. They remove the transformers. But they did not come for help when the fire broke out. The people here tried to put out the fire for the sake of their labour, their livelihood. They confronted the fire with their bodies. Fires always break out in this region and the villagers extinguish them by their own means. But this time the fire was disastrous. It was rising for kilometres at once. It was a big disaster. We mobilised with all our municipalities and tried to intervene in the fire."

Drawing attention to the agricultural policy of the state, Demir stated that there is a lot of stubble burning activity in the region due to the lack of agricultural policy. He continued: "The agricultural policy of the state forces farmers to plant second crops. This leads to stubble burning even though it is forbidden. This is a major problem because there is no agricultural policy here. If there was an agricultural policy, people would not need to burn stubble. Another one is DEDAŞ's power lines. DEDAŞ is persecuting the people here. The only source of livelihood in the region is agriculture. DEDAŞ cuts people's electricity. In addition, the wires are problematic. They send hundreds of soldiers when a transformer is to be dealt with, and they confront the people who make their living from agriculture. But there is no maintenance. Even in this matter, it does its cruelty. DEDAŞ is a big problem here. Another one is the urgent need to establish an agricultural policy.”

Drawing attention to the insensitivity of the media towards the fires in the region, Demir said that if a similar incident happened elsewhere, the entire media would flock to the region. Stating that the media is trying to cover up the incident, Demir said, "So many people have died and many more have been injured. But they want to cover it up. They want to cover it up by saying 'stubble burning’. We want this place to be declared a disaster area. There is great labour here. These people need to be compensated for their losses."