Gov’t ally Bahçeli targets charity Ahbap, says official state aid body 'sufficient'

Erdoğan's ally MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has targeted famous singer Haluk Levent’s AHBAP association, which has been helping rescue efforts in the quake-stricken provinces, and said “These scammers shouldn't be on TV.” Bahçeli called people to donate to state-run AFAD.

Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ally and the leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli on Feb. 14 targeted singer Haluk Levent's social assistance organization AHBAP working in the quake-stricken provinces following the huge amount of donations made to the charity instead of the state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Saying that state’s rescue and aid efforts is “sufficient,” Bahçeli stated that “These scammers shouldn't be on TV,” referring to Haluk Levent and famous YouTuber Oğuzhan Uğur who has been similarly helping with collecting donations through his YouTube channel Babala TV.

“Pushing the state aside, collecting aid through crone relations, and establishing a parallel line is a kind of overshadowing the credibility of the state, and in our view it is a mistake that should not be respected. The state of the Republic of Turkey is strong, it can overcome every difficulty. Providing aid and support through AFAD is the most correct and healthy way,” Bahçeli said while speaking in his party’s parliamentary group meeting.

Responding to Bahçeli, Haluk Levent said “Just yesterday, MHP lawmakers came to visit us. I think Mr. Devlet Bahçeli's advisors misled him.”

He also reminded that MHP lawmaker Muharrem Varlı’s daughter Hilal Varlı was the head of the AHBAP’s Ankara branch until a few months ago.

Similarly, Oğuzhan Uğur said they work in coordination with state institutions. 

“In addition, many of MHP supporters have given us great support. We believe that Bahçeli was given false information. In the face of this great problem of our great nation, we came together without any discrimination between the parties and opinions,” he said.

From the first day onwards, various civil organizations have been trying to help earthquake victims by collecting donations using social media.

Millions of liras have been donated to AHBAP instead of the state-run AFAD amid corruption concerns, with people saying that they do not know how their money will be spent in the latter.

Whereas, the ruling AKP-MHP coalition has been trying to monopolize aid distribution in the hands of AFAD.

Responding to the criticisms of not visiting quake-stricken provinces since Feb. 6, Bahçeli claimed “I followed the developments from Ankara in order not to interfere with the rescue efforts. We are not after show and exploitation like others.”

“I had been waiting for a reasonable time to visit our cities and citizens damaged by the earthquake as part of a program. The time has come, now is the time to hit the road,” he added.

Bahçeli’s hometown Osmaniye province is one of the 10 provinces that was struck by the major quakes on Feb. 6. He is also a lawmaker from the same province.