Duvar English

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has tried to distribute tablet computers to hundreds of families still displaced from their homes by an earthquake that struck the eastern province of Van in 2011 reportedly on condition that the families become party members.

On Oct. 9, AKP officials visited some 200 families who continue to live in Van’s satellite city of trailers and offered tablets on the said condition, angering some residents, Mesopotamia News Agency reported on Oct. 14.

“They do not have the right to make people AKP members by threatening them. The situation of the people that live here is obvious. As if this wasn’t enough, they are coming here and exploiting this situation,” said resident Rasim Açar.

“Regardless of what my political thoughts are, no party has the right to threaten me in this manner. What is the value of a tablet? They are not recognizing you and your will,” he added.

According to Açar, some of the families living in the area did accept the AKP’s offer in exchange for receiving a tablet. 

Millions of children across Turkey have become dependent on tablets and computers in order to participate in remote education during the pandemic, though many do not have the means to obtain such devices, or do not have internet access.

“We’re down and out and they are coming here and benefiting from this situation in exchange for offering money, jobs and tablets,” said Süheyla Yıldız, a nine-year resident of the container city. 

Turkey’s Education Minister Ziya Selçuk had previously announced that 500,000 tablets would be distributed to children nationwide.