Written by Amine Sedef, Uyghur Times Correspondent in Istanbul
Translated into English by Ayguzel
Edited by Tahir Imin Uyghurian
At 4:17 a.m. and 13:26 on February 6, the most severe earthquake unseen in 100 years occurred in Türkiye.
The quake caused damages in 11 provinces, including Kahrmanmaras. As of the last report by CNN and Aljazeera, more than 24,000 people have died in this disaster, 76,000 people were injured, 6,444 houses collapsed, more than 11,000 houses were damaged, and 15 million people were directly affected.
After the earthquake, many countries provided material and monetary support to Türkiye and some sent ground rescue teams to Türkiye. Among them, there were many vocal supporters from the Turkic world. Many Uyghurs were also at the forefront of these rescue efforts, including aid teams on the ground, fundraisings among global Uyghur communities, and East Turkistan/Uyghur organizations. In short, Uyghurs are also grieving for the innocent lives lost in Türkiye as "SENİN ACIN BENİM ACIM" (Your pain is my pain).
From the day of the earthquake till today, Uyghurs and Uyghur organizations around the world have expressed sympathy and best wishes for Türkiye on their social media platforms and provided economic and material assistance. Many Uyghurs went directly to the disaster area to participate in search and rescue efforts, distribute supplies, and prepare and distribute food in the disaster area.
Mr. Kuzzat Altay, an Uyghur American entrepreneur and Uyghur human rights activist from East Turkistan, announced that he raised $156,000 from the people around him and matched it with $100,000. Mr. Altay, CEO of CYDEO, sent a total donation amount of $256,000 to Ahbap Dernegi in Türkiye to help with the disaster relief efforts and tell the people of Türkiye that SENİN ACIN BENİM ACIM (Your pain is my pain).
With the help of Mr. Seyit Tümtürk, the Speaker of the National Assembly of East Turkestan, 1 million Turkish Lira was raised in a short period. The donations have been used to buy food, medical supplies, winter clothes, and baby items (in three trucks weighing 60 tons in total), which were brought to the center of Kahramanmaraş and distributed to those affected by the earthquake.
Mr. Seyit Tümtürk said that they had purchased four large tents (50 square meters) together with the East Turkistan Federation, set up East Turkistan tents in the disaster area, and provided them to the people in the disaster area.
The disaster relief team led by Mr. Seyit Tümtürk sent Uyghurs to help the homeless and rescue workers in the disaster area. It is worth mentioning that two Uyghurs, Muhammad and Osmanjan, from the rescue team rescued two people buried under the rubble in the Kahramanmaraş province.
Organizations such as the Ili Meshrap Foundation, East Turkestan Federation, as well as the volunteer group headed by Habibullah Kusen, and the Uyghur community construction group also helped in the disaster area.
Ili Meshrap Foundation Volunteer Group and Uyghur Community Building Mission distributed aid worth 250,000 Turkish Lira. In addition, the leaders and volunteers of this organization have been divided into four groups: one group does rescue work with the search and rescue team, another group helps distribute aid materials to the wounded and unloads goods, and the other groups cook for the victims.
The East Turkistan Youth Association was one of the organizations that helped the most in this disaster. From the first day of the earthquake till now, a group of people rushed to the disaster area to carry out rescue work. Mobilized by the head of the organization, Ilham Turanli, material assistance (including winter clothes, food, hygiene items, blankets, and baby essentials) was sent to the disaster area along with a second batch of volunteers.
The East Turkistan Organization Federation and its affiliated organizations continue to provide material and economic support to the disaster-stricken areas.
The Nuzugum culture and Family Derniki associated with the organization have also donated a considerable amount of cash through fundraising and partnered with Hera School to help hundreds of students. They also sent cold-proof clothing and emergency supplies in short supply to the disaster area. They are currently also arranging for Uyghur women to make many blankets, which will be sent to displaced people in the disaster area.
About 60 volunteers from the Blue Moon Humanitarian Aid Foundation and the New Breed Movement affiliated with the East Turkistan Organization Department cooked Polo (an Uyghur traditional rice dish) for 4,000-5,000 victims every day in the worst-hit province of Kahramanmaraş.
Mr. Seyit Tümtürk, head of the East Turkestan National Assembly, Mr. Jurat Gulja, head of the Ili Meshrap Foundation, and Mr. Habibullah Kusen, representative of the East Turkestan Federation, Mr. Ilham Turanli, leader of the Youth Association, said: "This is a very serious matter." The earthquake has caused serious losses to the country and the people of Türkiye. As Uyghurs living in Türkiye, we express our sympathy for the affected people. Will always stand with the Turkish government and help to the end.
Although the Uyghurs are also having a hard time, they will still stand with their Turkish brothers and sisters and fulfill their fraternal responsibilities and human responsibilities until the end.
"Our people are starving and dying in East Turkistan, we can't deliver food, they're burning in the fire, we can't go to rescue them, now our brothers in front of us, the people of Türkiye are in trouble, of course, it's our duty to help,” said Mr. Seyit Tümtürk, who was interviewed by the Uyghur Times news agency.
So far, Uyghurs have provided huge support to the innocent people of Türkiye, even though East Turkistan is still under occupation and the Uyghurs have been suffering from concentration and genocide by the brutal Chinese communist regime since 2017. Thus, the Uyghurs have neither a national bank nor a specially trained national rescue team. Nevertheless, the amount of fundraising, number of volunteer rescuers, amount of material help, and spiritual support are no less than that of any independent country.