Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan criticised the Turkish government’s response to the recent earthquakes that affected Turkey’s southeast as well as northern Syria, saying it was “scandalous”, and condemned the Turkish Red Crescent for its apparent profiteering from the disaster.
Comments by Paylan, whose family comes from the disaster-struck Malatya province, reflect the growing public frustration over the scandals in the aftermath of the twin earthquakes on 6 February, and the need for greater transparency and accountability.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wished to “run the country like a company”, Paylan said, citing older speeches by the president himself. “We said then that the state could not be run in that way. Profit is the essential thing for companies, while public interest and the interests of citizens are what are essential for the state.”
Paylan added that the [Turkish] Red Crescent was also “run as a company, based on profit”.
The Red Crescent’s president Kerem Kınık had kept hold of tents purchased for 5,000 liras ($265), as they could be sold for 25,000 ($1325) liras if he held off for a few days after the disaster, Paylan argued. “I say this clearly: This is one of the biggest scoundrels in the history of the Republic of Turkey. Keeping those tents waiting for three days is despicable.”
Temperatures went as low as -15°C in Adıyaman, another one of the provinces most heavily hit by the earthquakes, Paylan said. “Where were the Adıyaman MPs? Our citizens were shivering in Hatay, Maraş, Adıyaman. And that scoundrel kept those tents waiting for three days.”
“This is the lowest of the low,” the MP continued. “And that person is still in office with no shame, and the president still isn’t dismissing him. How do you accept such a thing, how does it fit with your conscience?”
The twin earthquakes and their aftershocks have affected some 13 million people in 10 provinces in Turkey, killing more than 45,000 people according to official figures. With rubble-clearing efforts starting before all the bodies were removed, the actual number is estimated to be much higher. Syrian officials report some 6,000 dead and a cholera outbreak due to inadequate hygiene conditions in the northern region where the disaster struck.