Erdoğan expresses regret over zoning amnesties after collapsed buildings

Turkish President Erdoğan has stated that the AKP government will not consider enacting zoning amnesty laws anymore for not facing “what we experienced in the latest earthquake.” The remarks stirred a huge reaction on social media as people said Erdoğan “confessed the crime.”

Duvar English

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 29 told broadcaster ATV that “We can no longer think about (enacting the laws of) zoning amnesty. Otherwise we will face what we experienced in the latest earthquake.”

According to the official figures, the devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey either collapsed or heavily damaged more than 200,000 buildings. The government stopped sharing the information for the only collapsed buildings.

Erdoğan’s remarks of “We can no longer think about zoning amnesties” stirred a huge reaction on social media as people said he “confessed the crime.”

In 2018, just prior to the general elections, a legislative package that included zoning amnesty was approved with the votes of Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is known to have praised his government's amnesty laws many times in his speeches.

The 2018-dated amnesty law paved the way for illegal construction and lack of supervision as was the case for the previous ones. If a building is granted an amnesty and the relevant fine is paid, the structure is not demolished even though it does not meet the safety and code requirements.

Erdoğan even boasted about this move in earthquake-hit provinces in 2019, saying they "solved the problems" of the citizens.

On the other hand, Erdoğan said during the live broadcast that 850,000 people lost their limbs due to the earthquakes. However, the official figure for the injured people stands at 107,204. Erdoğan’s remarks once again has drawn ire as there were already concerns that official figures for the earthquake might be intentionally misleading.

Turkey’s southeastern region was struck by two major earthquakes on Feb. 6, one at a magnitude of 7.7 and the other at 7.6. 

The number of citizens who have died in the earthquakes stands at 50,096, but experts fear that the number is much higher, taking into consideration the thousands of buildings that collapsed.