The chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the eastern province of Dersim, Sercan Özaydın prompted outrage on social media for sharing an image on Aug. 28 where a fire-fighting plane was photoshopped into a photo of the forest fire that has been ravaging the area.
"Our government is intervening with the fire in our Hozat district with all its resources. Today with sprinklers, tomorrow with planes...." wrote the provincial chairman along with the image.
Hizmeti fotoğraf, siyaseti iftira zanneden kimseler bilmeliler ki;— Dr. Sercan ÖZAYDIN (@Dr_Sozaydin) August 28, 2021
Hozat ilçemizde çıkan yangına Devletimiz tüm imkanlarıyla müdahale etmektedir.
Bugün arazözlerle, yarın uçaklarla…
Bu yaygara ile üstü örtülmeye çalışılan asıl gerçeği çok iyi biliyor! pic.twitter.com/XtXYzHdKbm
The AKP chairman also said that the people of Dersim "knew very well the truth that's attempted to be covered up with the fuss" over the forest fire that has been ongoing in the area for over a week.
The Turkish government has been under fire for its ineffective interventions in forest fires across Turkey over the summer, as the administration has failed to employ extinguishing planes from the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK) since 2019.
The AKP chair issued a correction two days after sharing the altered image where he clarified that the photo was in fact a file photo that he took from a local daily.
"Dear friends, the photo in question was a stock image and wasn't ours, it was taken from the headline in Özgür Dersim daily," the chairman said.
Değerli dostlar, söz konusu fotoğraf temsili olup bize ait değildir, özgür dersim gazetesinin manşetidir. pic.twitter.com/DSpuVGyeOP— Dr. Sercan ÖZAYDIN (@Dr_Sozaydin) August 30, 2021
Sözaydın also claimed on Aug. 30 that the fires had been extinguished, although local outlets reported that the flames have been still ongoing after two weeks.