The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Jan. 27 urged the government to take precautions against earthquakes, after a deadly quake jolted Turkey’s eastern province of Elazığ, claiming at least 41 lives and injuring thousands.
Speaking after the Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting of the CHP, party spokesperson Faik Öztrak said the nation is “thankfully dealing with difficulties together” yet it was “saddening” for the country to go through the same pains after every powerful earthquake.
“When the people asked, ‘Are precautions being taken against the quakes?’ or ‘Where did the earthquake taxes go?’ they were reprimanded by the ministers,” Öztrak said at the press conference.
“Then threats came. The energy minister said, ‘We should not expect everything from the state,” he said.Öztrak also slammed Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, accusing him of “repressing criticisms.”
“Then [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] took over and accused those asking, ‘What did this government do against quakes in 20 years?’ of immorality,” he said.
“If we were to discuss morality, then it makes sense only to talk about where the taxes collected for earthquakes were spent,” he added.
The spokesperson also conveyed that earthquakes cannot be prevented but its damages can be minimalized with necessary measures.
“This is the job of politics and politicians. It is also the primary duty of those in power,” he added.
After the 1999 Marmara earthquake, the worst seismic disaster in the country’s recent history, some 63 billion Turkish Liras were collected in special communication taxes. The taxes became permanent in 2004.
“The citizens are asking ‘You are in power for the last 17 years, what did you to prevent damages and deaths in quake-prone zones?’ The government has to explain this without getting angry or threatening,” Öztrak said.
Öztrak also added that a proposal was submitted to parliament three months ago in order to discuss Turkey’s preparations against earthquakes, but was rejected by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) votes.
“When the nation asks about the money collected, the government says ‘do not make politics’ and probes those who ask. But we see that the government is not refraining from a political show in the quake-hit zone,” he added.
The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara is investigating dozens of people for what the government calls “provocative” social media posts about the deadly earthquake.
Hurriyet Daily News