Two massive earthquakes hit Turkey on February 6, 2023, the first of which had a magnitude of 7.7 with its epicenter being the Pazarcık district of the Kahramanmaraş province and the second one hit nine hours later with a magnitude of 7.6 making the Elbistan district of the Kahramanmaraş province its epicenter. The powerful tremors, also ripping through Middle East and rendering Syria there being the worst-affected country, was felt as far as Israel and Egypt, shaking as wide an area as 1000 square meters with tens of thousands of casualties & high material damages in nearly one-third of the territorial expanse of Türkiye.
The main 7.7-magnitude Kahramanmaraş quake, described as a “Totally Annihilating” tremor, affected also the surrounding provinces inflicting a large-scale loss of life & physical damage in 10 provinces in the region aligned on the same earthquake line. The population of the region, which tries to survive under intense winter conditions, cold rain and snowfall, exceeds 13 million. The earthquake also had devastating consequences on the justice system in the region affected. In the 10 provinces located in the earthquake zone, a total of 16,920 lawyers, as they continued their lives, were also registered to our bar associations there; therefore, they were directly affected by the outcomes of the earthquake.
The number of lawyers registered to the bar associations in the provinces affected by the earthquake is as follows;
|LOCAL BAR ASSOCIATIONS||TOTAL|
|ADANA BAR ASSOCIATION||4.250|
|ADIYAMAN BAR ASSOCIATION||522|
|DİYARBAKIR BAR ASSOCIATION||2.116|
|GAZİANTEP BAR ASSOCIATION||2.967|
|HATAY BAR ASSOCIATION||1.905|
|KAHRAMANMARAŞ BAR ASSOCIATION||1.354|
|KİLİS BAR ASSOCIATION||147|
|MALATYA BAR ASSOCIATION||1.030|
|OSMANİYE BAR ASSOCIATION||721|
|ŞANLIURFA BAR ASSOCIATION||1.908|
As a result of the earthquake, it was determined that 108 lawyers/trainee lawyers lost their lives so far and 3 lawyers/trainee lawyers are reported as still under the rubble. There is concern that these numbers will increase. The families of lawyers living in the earthquake areas were also affected by the detrimental consequences.
Some of the courthouses and bar association premises in the provinces affected by the earthquake incurred heavy damages and they either collapsed or became unusable. The offices of many lawyers have also become unusable following these catastrophic quakes. Many lawyers were temporarily transferred from the region to other places. There are still hardships hindering people’s access to shelter and basic needs.
Although a three-month state of emergency has been declared by the government in the region, the effects of the earthquake on people’s daily- and working life will last for a very long time, and the process of normalization will prevail over many years. It is clear that the negative effects of the earthquake will continue to be felt for a very long time.
In this troubled period, it will be necessary to provide living/working spaces and conditions, temporary offices and the necessary equipment/setup for our bar associations and our colleagues. It is obvious that achieving that end will require a large financial budget. The solidarity and support of international law organizations in this difficult process is very important and absolutely invaluable.