‘We received no aid because we are Alevis’

Yilmaz Uzatmaz, uncle of Ali Deniz Uzatmaz who was killed in the 2015 Ankara bombing, said that “The government did not send us aid because we are an Alevi village.”

The village of Osmandede in the Pazarcik district of Maraş, one of the epicentres of the two devastating earthquakes on 6 February, has been massively devastated. The residents of the village, where almost all houses collapsed, are surviving by their own means.

The village is also the hometown of the family of Ali Deniz Uzatmaz, who lost his life in the 2015 Ankara bombing. Uzatmaz's family stated that they experienced a second disaster after their child was killed in Ankara.

Just 20 days after starting university, Ali Deniz was killed in a bomb attack in 2015 carried out by state-backed ISIS members at the Peace and Democracy Meeting in Ankara. Yılmaz Uzatmaz, Ali Deniz's uncle, spoke to ANF about his nephew and the difficulties they experienced during the earthquake.

Uzatmaz said: “After Ali Deniz, our struggle continued. We are proud of him and I'm sure he's proud of us, too. But his death gave us tremendous pain. Unfortunately, we are now suffering another pain. Our village has been destroyed by the earthquake. Many of our fellow villagers have died. Late arrival of aid by the government put us in a difficult situation. Even a week after the earthquake, there were people without tents and firewood.”


Uncle Uzatmaz emphasized that they did not receive aid from state-run AFAD and similar organizations because their village was a revolutionary and Alevi village. He said: “Mostly civilian volunteers have come here. We are grateful to everyone who came to help. They did not leave us hungry and without shelter. Even the tent behind me was brought by benefactors. The state has never reached here. I believe that the reason is that all the destroyed places were Alevi villages. Some keep saying that there's a lack of coordination, but I don't believe that. Officials discriminated against us on purpose. We are Turkmen Alevis, but all the villages around us are Kurdish villages.”


Uzatmaz underlined that there is no problem between Kurdish and Turkish Alevis. He added: “The Alevis do not discriminate among humans. After we met our own needs, my father distributed aid to other villages. Unfortunately, the government discriminates among citizens. We pulled those who lost their lives in a neighbour village with our bare hands. No search and rescue team came here.”