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 Expedition: Ararat 2001 Peace Climb

Introduction: In mid July 2001, a group of veteran Everest climbers, will journey to Turkey to climb Mt. Ararat via the North side of the mountain. These climbers will come from around the world, to climb this legendary, Holy mountain for the non-profit group AKUT, TEGEV (an education programme in Turkey), the Babu Chiri School Fund, and to climb for peace around the world. The climbers will climb the North side of Ararat, which in modern history (the last 1000 years !) has not been open to foreign climbers except on very rare cases. We have not found any verified Summits by foreign climbers via the North side of the mountain.

Mission: Climbers from around the world will come to Turkey in July of 2001 to show the world “we all can get along”. The climbers will symbolize the countries of the world coming together to climb this legendary, Holy mountain to raise money for AKUT, TEGEV and the Babu Chiri School Fund. AKUT is a non-profit search and rescue Society in Turkey. TEGEV is an education programme in Turkey. The Babu Chiri Sherpa School Fund is a fund set up to build a school for children of the late Babu Chiri, 10 time Everest summitter, who died this May 2001 on Everest.

The Climbers: The climbers is a group of seven. They will represent the best climbers in the world today. Several of the climbers will have numerous Summits of the 14 8000 meter peaks. They will speak different languages, be of different races, and have different religions, and all joining together for a good cause. 

The expedition will send reports to www.holylandexpeditions.com and it's parent site EverestNews.com www.everestnews.com. EverestNews.com is the largest mountaineering web site in the world covering the world.

The list of climbers includes: Nasuh Mahruki, the only climber from Turkey to Summit K2 and Everest, www.everestnews.com/nasuh.htmDavid Keaton, the youngest climber at the time to finish the Seven Summits; Swee Chiow, the first Singapore climber to reach the Summit of Everest and a very strong young climber; Ricardo Torres-Nava, the first Latin American climber to Summit Everest; Fernando Gonzales Rubio, Tunc Findik and Marcelo Arbelaez.

Press contact EverestNews.com mail2006@everestnews.com www.everestnews.com www.holylandexpeditions.com

Reporters ! Please e-mail us ! mail2006@everestnews.com 

To support this vision of peace, please make a donation, via SHIVA charity. You can make a credit card donation by clicking HERE.

The Good Cause: AKUT: http://www.holylandexpeditions.com/new.htm and in Turkish www.akut.org.tr


Q.­- What does AKUT stand for?

A.- AKUT stands for “Arama-Kurtarma Dernegi”; a translation into English can be made as “The Search and Rescue Association”

Q.- What is the legal status of AKUT in Turkiye [Turkey] ?

A.- AKUT was formed under the Turkish Government’s “dernekler kanunu”, namely the “law of societies”. A “dernek” status is not specific to any interest or work group; instead, it simply sets rules and ground on forming certain societies. In addition to being a “dernek”, AKUT has been given the very rare and prestigious  “Kamu Yararina Dernek” status in January/ 1999 after common approval from Turkish Government’s “bakanlar kurulu” (House of Ministries). This new and additional status legally and officially recognizes the fact that AKUT is a non-profit society that operates for the  good of the  general public. Apart from being prestigious, “Kamu Yararina Dernek” status simply entitles the society to tax-free imports from outside of Turkiye [Turkey] and other tax exemptions within Turkiye.

Q.- When and by whom was AKUT founded?

A.- AKUT was officially founded in  February,1996 by seven volunteers: six  mountaineers, and one speleologist.

Q.- What are the backgrounds of people that make up AKUT?

A.- During the early days of AKUT, majority of the members were made of people that actively practiced an (semi-extreme to extreme) outdoor sport branch (e.g. mountaineering, caving, rock-climbing, etc.). Following the launch of the society, more and more people of diverse backgrounds, varying from Turkish Armed Forces’ Special Op. Units’ (SAT) trainer(s) to engineers and architects, doctors to individuals that have previously lived abroad and volunteered at foreign emergency organizations started to join AKUT. 99% of the AKUT volunteers have a university degree and all have come under the roof of one goal: saving lives.

Q.- How many members are in AKUT?

A.- Currently, there are a total of 328 volunteers that are registered with AKUT. Of the 328 volunteers, 128 are “firm & approved” members, whereas the remaining 200 are “probationary members”, awaiting for approval after the initial one-year trial period. In addition, 300+ additional volunteers have very recently applied to become AKUT probationary members, their applications are currently being reviewed.

Q.- How are members recruited into AKUT?

A.- Becoming a member of AKUT is purely a voluntary process. As AKUT has been more and more recognized and publicisized in Turkiye, ever-increasing number of  people have opted to volunteer for AKUT. Regardless of his/her background, one has to go through a  one-year probationary period before being cleared (by AKUT’s administrative board) to gain a full membership status. During the probationary period, prospective members are evaluated for their performance/ work within the organization.

A “probationary member” status is relatively easy to obtain; the only requirements are the administrative ones (filling-out an application form, paying the annual membership  fee, supplying a photo, a signature, signing a waiver, obtaining an official “clean” paper from a court, etc.).

Q.- What kind of training is given to AKUT’s members, and how?

          A.- Members that have prior knowledge and experience of certain subjects, and/or those that have been trained on misc. issues train the new and willing members. AKUT has doctors that give classes on emergency medical operations; individuals that are trained in navigation that give navigation (I, II & III) classes; those who work in the military that donate their free time to give classes in SAR operations and techniques; those that actively work in TRAC (Turkish Radio Amateurs Society) that give classes in telecommunication; those that professionally do mountaineering that give classes on rope and climbing techniques; etc.

          In summary, the vast number of volunteers with diverse backgrounds, regardless of whether they are of civilian, military or governmental origin, donate their free time to manage AKUT’s training program.  Depending on the nature of the program, training sessions are held in numerous locations, varying from hospitals to conference centers, meeting rooms of corporations to class rooms, or simply outdoors in a mountain side or a forest. As an initial step during the re-structuring phase of AKUT, a first aid medical training facility with two classrooms has just been opened in Kozyatağı / İstanbul in March, 2000, sponsored with donations from a private-sector corporation. The facility, named “Ariel- İskender Iğdır İlkyardım Merkezi”, is currently the most modern and complete facility of its kind in Turkey.

Q.- How is AKUT financed?

          A.- AKUT’s operations are mainly financed by donations and fundraisers.  The only other revenue is generated by the annual membership fees that do not even cover AKUT’s daily administrative expenses.

        Q.- How is AKUT managed?

          A.- AKUT’s operations are handled and controlled by a board of directors, made up of seven people.  Board of directors oversee and control the operations of  numerous committees and subcommittees run by the active members. There are a total of six main committees: emergency management, logistics, training, exterior relations, finance and office management, and human resources.

Q.- Where is AKUT based at? Where is AKUT’s equipment and apparatus inventory kept at?

A.- AKUT’s main office was in reality the law office of one of AKUT’s members. A lawyer, he has opened the doors of his small one-room office, located in Beyoglu, Istanbul, to be used as the administrative center. However, Along with the recent breakthrough in the amount of support given to AKUT, a much bigger office facility in Mecidiyekoy, Istanbul, has just been assigned to AKUT, along with a storage facility in the suburbs.

Currently, equipment and apparatus owned by AKUT  is strategically distributed among miscellaneous storage facilities scattered throughout the city, in a manner enabling the  most speedy access during an emergency. Also, two sets of teams have recently been established in the cities of Ankara and Antalya, complete with equipments and apparatus.

 Q.- How and by whom is AKUT alerted?

A.- AKUT is alerted through numerous channels varying from individuals witnessing the emergency to the local governments’ appropriate offices, and/or the Turkish Government’s crisis center in Ankara.

Q.- What are AKUT’s short term plans/ goals?

A.- AKUT’s short term plan is to complete the re-structuring phase that has started with the recent increase in support received (building training facilities, strengthening the existing ties with the government authorities, fully utilizing the new and ever-growing support received both nationally and internationally).

Q.- What are AKUT’s long term plans?

A.- AKUT’s long term plan is to grow and extend its structure throughout Turkiye, and/or assist similar organizational attempts, and become one of the internationally-recognized SAR teams. AKUT believes that too much has been/ is being expected from the Turkish Government alone (in terms of emergency operations), and that time has come to facilitate and train the civilian population in aiding the government for emergency operations.

Q.- To this date, how many emergency operations has AKUT attended/ handled?

Ever since its launch date of Feb./1996, a total of 25 mountain & avalanche, 4 canyon, 1 criminal, 1 swift water recovery, 2 flood, 7 earthquake, 5 forest fire   rescue operations have been attended/ handled by AKUT.

Q.- Who are AKUT’s official partners in Turkiye [Turkey] ? Who does AKUT officially work and deal with for and during emergency as well as non-emergency conditions? Who does AKUT have agreements &/or protocols signed with?

A.- Turkish Civil Defense Authority; Turkish Forest Service; TRAC (Turkish Radio Amateurs Society); Izmir 112 system (City of Izmir’s one and only official emergency medical response system); Agean 112 system (Turkiye’s Agean region’s official emergency medical response system); Kizilay (Turkish Red Cross); Turk Hava Kurumu (Turkish Civil Air Society); Turk Hava Yollari (Turkish Airlines).

Q.- Who are AKUT’s operational partners locally, nationally and internationally?

A.- All of the above plus Turkish Fire Service (local departments), Turkish Coast Guard

Turkish Armed Forces (Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Gendarme), Local Government Authorities, and Turkish Ministry of Internal Affairs

Q.- Training partners: 

A.- Israeli FIRST SAR team, German Johanniter team, Greece EMAK team., Scottish LOCHOBER Mountain SAR team, Turkish Civil Defense Authority, Turkish Armed Forces’ Special Op. Units;Turkish Armed Forces’ Air Rescue Units, and Istanbul Fire Department. 

Q.- What are some of AKUT’s Training Needs:

A.- In order to improve AKUT’s training program, AKUT’s volunteer trainer(s) get trained by numerous national and international organizations. AKUT believes that the most efficient training for AKUT van be achieved through a  “train an AKUT trainer” method. So far, AKUT’s trainers (and in some instances the whole core response team) has taken part in training sessions in Japan, Israel, Scotland, Switzerland and Canada, in order to pass along the information to the ever-developing AKUT team. Any professional training programs to train AKUT’s trainers would mean more lives saved, much more professionally and efficiently.

Q.- What are some of AKUT’s equipment and apparatus needs:

A.- First aid training equipment. (training manequins for misc. purposes), and other training equipment (books, literature, etc.). Specialized urban search and rescue (search cams, fiber optic cams, body heat sensors, lifting bags, cutters & spreaders, etc.) gear. Mountain rescue (UAVs, night vision scopes) gear. Flood Rescue (hovercrafts, quicksand boats) gear. Navigation and communication hardware and software. Software for pre-disaster/ emergency planning (e.g. software for converting pixel-based documents to vectoral documents/datas) 

Q. Other SAR Teams in Turkiye:

A.- Civil Defense Authority (Sivil Savunma); headquarters in Ankara. Turkish Armed Forces’ SAR Teams – Mainly used for military operations. Newly founded all volunteer SAR teams. 

Q.- What is the current inventory of AKUT’s SAR and other related apparatus and equipment?

A.- Numerous hand tools, power generators, power tools, communication equipment, one Zodiac™ boat, 24 vehicles (including two snow mobiles), misc. first aid gear (stretchers, etc.), tech. rescue gear. In addition to all the above AKUT’s members’ personal gear (e.g. technical mountain rescue gear)

 The Verdict:

As you might have realized from the humble overview above, AKUT has started a brand new fire within the Turkish society; a fire that should have ignited a long time ago. A lot is being faced and fought against during our struggle.  Therefore, any assistance received from organizations and people that share the same belief as AKUT and its volunteers, will enable AKUT to achieve its goals much more successfully and speedily.


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