Cosmopolitan Municipality of Turkey’s Antep province organized the ‘Pistachio Festival’ on the anniversary of a deadly attack of ISIL that had caused 57 people – 40 of whom were children – to lose their lives.
The ‘International Pistachio Culture Festival’, which had been held in Antep every year in the month of September for the past nine years, was organized at an earlier date this year and held on August 19-20, which coincided with the first year anniversary of deadly ISIL attack at a wedding last year.
Around the place where a wedding was targeted by ISIL last year on August 20, a festival parade and a concert, as well as, several other kinds of festivities, were held this year.
A father who lost his son Azad as a result of ISIL’s attack at the wedding site last year, Servet Aydınalp, expressed his disappointment while visiting his son’s grave and said the approach of the municipality officials has intensified their pain.
“What this festival shows us is that a handful of pistachios are much more valuable than the lives of 57 people, including my son’s. The Municipality held a festival, overlooking our grief. That has wounded us deeply! We are never going to forget this massacre and this festival organized by the municipality”, said the grieving father.
Mesut Garsi, a musician who had also got severely injured in the attack as he was attending the wedding to perform, also reacted to the officials neglegience. Saying the officials have been in an attempt to have the attack be forgetten, Garsi added: “I think that the change of the date of the festival was made on purpose... They (officials) organize an entertaining even by overlooking the pain and sorrow of the people that survived the massacre. Who would do that?”
“This festival was held on this date so that a commemoration ceremony would not be held. 57 people were killed in that attack of ISIL but since those who died were Kurds they are not valued”.
HDP (People’s Democratic Party) MP from Antep, Mahmut Toğrul, reacted to the festival by saying it is ‘unacceptable’ regardless of the reason for the change of date.
Deeming it as a scandal for the Municipality to invite the people of the province to a major organization in the city on the date of the anniversary of the massacre, MP Toğrul said: “It is impossible to believe that the officials (in the municipality) could act without knowing or remembering the date of the massacre… Unfortunately, these people (who were effected in the attack) have been left alone with what they went through. Holding the festival on the anniversary of the massacre is a reflection of how we still have not learnt our lesson and how we still lack emphaty”.