Istanbul, Ankara municipalities file lawsuit against gov't for blocking their donation campaigns

The municipalities of Istanbul and Ankara, both run by the main opposition CHP, have launched a lawsuit against the Interior Ministry over a circular blocking them from holding donation campaigns to help citizens in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

Duvar English

The municipalities of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) have launched a legal action against a circular of the Interior Ministry blocking them from holding donation campaigns during the coronavirus outbreak.

Istanbul municipality officials applied on April 1 to the country's Council of State ("Danıştay") for the circular to be annulled. They had said on March 31 that they would also undertake the necessary judicial actions for the state-owned Vakıfbank to reverse its move to freeze the municipality's donation account.

A similar statement came from the Ankara municipality. It said on March 31 that municipal laws explicitly state that municipalities have the right to collect aid. "The Ankara Metropolitan Municipality will launch a lawsuit at the Administrative Court tomorrow [on April 1]," it said.

Other opposition municipalities will reportedly also launch a lawsuit to annul the Interior Ministry's notice.

The move came after the donation accounts of Istanbul and Ankara municipalities used to gather funds for citizens in need amid coronavirus outbreak were blocked on March 31 following a formal notice of the Interior Ministry on the issue.

A notice with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's signature was sent to municipalities across Turkey on March 31, which said that the donation campaigns of the municipalities are against regulations.

The notice was slammed by deputies of the CHP - the party that Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş are from.

"Their aim is not to struggle against the virus but to prevent the struggle against it," CHP deputy Aykut Erdoğdu said on Twitter.

Shortly after the notice was sent, the accounts of the municipalities were blocked, prompting outrage against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on social media.

"The AKP's only concern is to prevent people from getting help," Burkay Düzce, a CHP official in Istanbul, said on Twitter, as he also shared a screenshot of the block warning.

A day earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a campaign to collect donations from citizens for those in need, saying he was donating seven months of his salary to the cause and that the effort had already drawn $11 million.