Citizens forbidden from partaking in firefighting efforts: Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 6 that citizens will no longer be allowed to partake in efforts to extinguish wildfires raging through Turkey. Erdoğan also slammed the campaign launched on social media calling for foreign help, arguing that its intention was to show Turkey as a "poor" country.

A fire that broke out in a forested land in Mersin's Erdemli district was put out by locals on Aug 6.

Duvar English 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that only those who have been assigned to an official duty will be allowed to enter the fire-stricken areas as of now.

“Those without an official duty will not be allowed in the areas of fire as of now. Problems, injuries might occur if this fight is undertaken with those who do not know the job [professionally]. We do not want to go through this,” Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul on Aug. 6.

Erdoğan also slammed the campaign launched on social media calling for foreign help amid devastating wildfires. He argued that the campaign “Help Turkey” was launched to show Turkey as a “poor” country.

“There is only one thing that we will say: Powerful Turkey! Because we are powerful. As a matter of fact, they were not able to endure for long, they have withdrawn 'Help Turkey' [campaign] in a short period of time,” he said.

Erdoğan's comments came a day after the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched a probe into social media posts that were shared with the hashtag "Help Turkey."

According to the prosecutor's office, some social media accounts and media outlets "tried to create panic, fear and concern among the public" by using the hashtag.

Erdoğan also responded to reports that the burned forest lands would be opened for construction in the face of a new law allowing construction for “tourism” purposes on forest lands.

According to the law, which was published in the Official Gazette on July 28, the government will have the power to open forest lands to tourism investment in the case of a “public interest.”

Erdoğan said that as per the 169th article of the Constitution, the state is obliged by the law to afforest the burned down forest lands, and these lands cannot be allocated for any other use.

He said that out of the 208 wildfires that have erupted in 44 provinces since July 28, some 196 forest fires have been put out, and efforts are underway to extinguish the remaining 12 fires in five provinces, including Antalya, Muğla, Isparta, Aydın, and Denizli.