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Students protest fatal elevator accident in state-run dormitory in western Turkey

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University students have protested a tragic incident in a state-run dormitory in the western province of Aydın, where the failure of an elevator claimed the life of a student, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.

Zeren Ertaş died on Thursday after the elevator in the Güzelhisar dormitory in Aydın, in which 16 people were riding, fell from the upper floors. Ertaş reportedly got stuck and died while trying to get out of the elevator.

The protestors argued that the incident wasn’t an accident but was rather due to negligence.

Students from Aydın Adnan Menderes University staged a sit-in in the city square, arguing in a public statement that the fatal incident was a result of negligence on the dormitory management’s part and not an accident. They stated that similar incidents had happened before and that they had warned management several times about the elevator.

“We will continue to raise our voices and seek justice until the responsible dormitory management is held accountable for this tragedy, and until those who caused the death of our friend are brought to justice,” the students said.

The protestors held placards that read “It’s not an accident, but negligence” and “We came here to study, not die.”

Meanwhile, the Youth and Sports Ministry announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that they had suspended the dormitory manager and assigned an inspector to look into the incident.

Tunç Erlaçin, the president of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers’ (MMO) Aydın branch, told the Gazete Duvar news website that the periodic inspections of elevators used to be done by them but that they have been under the control of a private company for nearly three years.

“When 16 people get on a 15-person elevator, it doesn’t fall. It just doesn’t work. Of course, I’m talking about a well-maintained elevator,” Erlaçin added.

Erkan Baş, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), also commented on the incident, saying they have been underlining for years that the government hasn’t left a future for the youth in Turkey.

“Now, they aren’t offering youth a path beyond death. Either because they haven’t provided a life worth living, young people resort to suicide, or … state-affiliated institutions find ways to take their lives,” Baş added.

According to a report by the Gazete Duvar news website on Wednesday, three university students have died by suicide across Turkey in the past 10 days due to financial problems.

Between 2002 and 2021, 5,414 people died by suicide in Turkey due to financial issues, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) indicate.

Over the past several years Turkey has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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