Turkish gov't confiscated millions collected for Covid-19 victims by Istanbul Municipality

The Turkish government has confiscated the 6.2 million liras raised by the opposition Istanbul Municipality for those financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, new reporting reveals.

This file photo shows Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu addressing reporters.

Duvar English

Over 6.2 million Turkish Lira in donations raised by the opposition Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) to help Covid-19 victims was confiscated by the government and transferred to state coffers, reporting by HalkTV reveals.

In March of 2020, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) municipality in Istanbul launched a “Together we will succeed” campaign to support those affected in the early days of the pandemic. However, the Interior Ministry issued a circular stating that the city could not collect money without the government’s approval and blocked the accounts holding the money. 

The municipality appealed the decision, arguing that legally cities have the right to collect donations to help their citizens. The campaign, however, was never allowed to restart. 

Per Turkish law, the money collected and confiscated by the Turkish government should have been returned to those who donated. The Istanbul governorship inspection commissioned submitted a report to the Interior Ministry stating as much.

However, a letter sent to the Istanbul Municipality by the Fatih District Governor’s Office on Feb. 8 shows that those rebates never occurred. The 6.2 million lira, plus 100 Swedish Krona and 40 Euro, were transferred from six accounts controlled by Istanbul Nunicipality into three accounts belonging to the Istanbul Revenue Office, a government entity. 

Istanbul CHP Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu says that those who confiscated the money and did not distribute it to the needy have brought a “curse” on themselves.