October 1, 2014

İETT cancels bus line to Fatih University, disabled student drops out

A student dropped out of school when the İstanbul Transportation Authority (İETT) canceled the only bus line to Fatih University, which is considered to be affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement.

After İETT canceled the bus line 76F, which was serving between the Beylikdüzü district and Fatih University, students protested the cancellation and launched a social media campaign. This bus line was the only line that disabled people could use. Elif Seda Dil, a physically handicapped student in the English teaching department at Fatih University, could no longer attend classes. Dil's university friends supported her through social media with the hashtag #76FhattiniGeriİstiyoruzİBB (We want the 76F-line İBB back). She stated that she loved her school and was upset that transportation difficulties meant she had to leave. She said she is disappointed to be a victim of growing discrimination against the Hizmet movement.

Dil, a student in her second year at the university, lived with her family in Bursa before she moved to İstanbul. She chose an apartment close to the bus line in Beylikdüzü to reach her school with her wheelchair. She said: “My family knew that my transportation was not a problem over the last two years. I cannot afford any other transport option. After this they are worried about me. I cannot continue my schooling like this.”

Speaking to Today's Zaman, Şükrü Boyraz, head of the Turkish Handicapped Association (TSD), said the lack of accessibility across the country is extremely serious, adding that providing access for the disabled should be one of the main responsibilities of local administrations. “According to a law enacted in 2005, municipalities and other public institutions were supposed to finish the adaptation of transportation for disabled people by 2012, but it has not yet been done. Now, on top of that, we are seeing this kind of discrimination. This implementation is incompatible with human dignity,” he said.

He also referred to law number 5293 on metropolitan municipalities that says that the municipality has to serve every citizen equally. “The laws are clear, but the government does not treat disabled citizens as equals. Transportation is the right of every citizen. I advised that friend of mine to sue the municipality. The government has to provide her transportation.”

Boyraz also remarked that Turkey must improve the situation for people with disabilities. He stated: “If we explain it with numbers, 12.5 percent of Turkey's population has disabilities, which is 8.5 million people. When we look at İstanbul, there are at least 1.5 million people with disabilities. Where are those people? Why do not we see them in public? The government does not provide for them. Many people with disabilities are living at home, like a prison. Even serial killers can go out and live in social areas but not us! What is our crime? The government must correct this unfairness. This situation is incompatible with human dignity.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 30 September 2014, Tuesday