Feature: Painful recovery for surviving victim in deadly Turkey terror attack

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-20 02:00:17|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Gunay Karakus was unaware that her life would tumble when she came with friends to Ankara on a sunny autumn day two years ago to attend a "peace" rally when vicious bombs exploded and killed 102 people.

Two years have passed since the deadliest terror attack of modern Turkey's history in which 102 people were killed and some 500 others injured on October 10,2015.

Two suicide attacks had occurred at the beginning of the "Peace and Democracy" rally organized in front of the Ankara main train station.

Turkish officials blamed the Islamic State (IS) of having masterminded and organized the bloody attack that has left many survivors with the similar harrowing and traumatic story.

"First I didn't realize how bad I was injured. But later on doctors told me that my right leg had to be amputated in order to keep me alives," said Gunay Karakus, who was then 25 years old and studying to be an English teacher at the Cukurova University of Adana, a town located in southern Turkey.

"There was a first explosion and immediately after a second one. It's the second one which had hit me. With the power of the explosion, I was swayed away. There was bodies all over the place," told the young girl in a sad voice.

Two of her closest friends were killed on the spot and several others wounded.

She spent six months in hospital where she decided to take on painting on her way to a painstaking recovery, both mentally and physically.

"Painting had a very good effect on be from the beginning. I used to paint since I was a little girl but this time I used oil painting and better brushes. It had really a therapeutic effect on me while I was in hospital and I continued afterwards," supported by doctors, indicated Karakus.

The young girl has launched first exhibition in downtown Ankara's Kizilay, supported by the Cankaya district municipality, entitled "Equinox", where 15 of her paintings are on display. The title of the exhibition, she explains, is a metaphor for life between the darkness of the massacre that she witnessed and suffered terribly and the light of painting towards inner healing.

The majority of her work has been sold for modest prices to art fans who understand that she is not a Picasso or a Gaugin but believe in her determination to create.

The benefits will be used for the maintenance of their bionic prosthetic leg that costs a small fortune, some 13,000 U.S dollars, payed mostly by donators and the Turkish state.

"It was a dream for me to open an exhibition of my artwork because I never got proper formal education in art. But now I know that I want to pursue this as a profession and I want to get a schooling in painting techniques," told Karakus.

She explains that she is generally drawn to paint women faces , some anxious and sad, others less unhappy and even with a subtle hint of happiness, like the ones exhibited, because she wants "people to see what does it feel to be a women, to make women a priority" in a country where the deepening tragedy of murdered women by misogynist men has become a scourge of society.

There are several painting workshops directed by renowned artists in Turkey's big cities like Ankara and Istanbul, and Karakus would love to be invited in one of them to improve her style.

"Honestly, I do not have the necessary money to support myself so if a philanthropist or an artist would decide to give me a hand, I would be very grateful," she said.

Some 20 km from the exhibition hall, more than dozen suspected members of IS are being jailed in a high security prison and trialed since last year for their involvement in Turkey's worst suicide bombing.

A total of 36 suspects, some still at large, are on trial for plotting the double suicide bombing that left Gunay Karakus an invalid.

The 35 Turks and one Kazakh face charges of murder, membership of a terrorist organization and seeking to change constitutional order, according to the indictment. Some face multiple sentences up to 11,750 years in prison.

IS has grown increasingly active in Turkey and claimed several high profile bombing and attacks that have killed dozens, mainly in 2015 and 2016.

Asked if she awaits justice from this ongoing trial, Karakus indicated that she is "hopeful" and "positive" about the outcome of the legal proceedings despite the fact that lives can never be brought back.

Many other families also follow closely the hearings and have promised never to forget lost loved ones. Five hearings have been held so far.

Victims were promised by the state to be treated free off charge, however, the Turkish press reported that many wounded people had to cover their medical expenses themselves.

And the state didn't also cover long psychological treatment necessary for most of the traumatized victims. The civil society stepped in to help those families in need.

According to data released by a support committee of victims and parents, physical treatment of most of the injured has ended but the psychological therapy of 30 people is still ongoing.

Still with a smile on her face, Karakus said that while she was outraged by this massacre, she is trying not to loose hope. "I have my painting that improve my quality of life and give me purpose. Without that you are lost."