Kerem Kınık, the chair of the Turkish Red Crescent, resigned from his position on Friday after months of controversy over the humanitarian agency, after admitting they sold tents and food supplies to a charity immediately after the 6 February earthquakes that hit Turkey’s south and affected some 13.5 million people.
The scandal caused an outrage in the Turkish public, with people and opposition politicians asking for the resignation of Kınık. However, the chairman dismissed those calls, saying he was elected by the Red Crescent’s board of directors. The board is largely composed of members close to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Kınık engaged in arguments on social media with those following up the incidents and relating calls for resignation. He did not change his attitude despite criticisms from AKP officials and members of the government, including former president Binalı Yıldırm, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, Vice President Fuat Oktay, and Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca.
What finally caused Kınık’s resignation 96 days after the earthquakes and two days before the 14 May elections was direct criticism from Erdoğan himself.
The president, who initially defended the Red Crescent, said that he had been deeply saddened by the incident, when answering the questions of a selected group of young people in his presidential palace.
“In other words, the Red Crescent cannot engage in the act of selling such a tent. Of course, it needs to correct this mistake,” Erdoğan said on Thursday evening.
The Red Crescent announced Kınık’s resignation on Friday, adding that the current vice chair will act as the head of the organisation until new elections take place.