Turkish lawyer investigated for asking ‘Where is the state?’ over earthquake response

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a citizen, lawyer by profession, for tweeting “Where is the state?” in criticism of the government’s response to the massive earthquakes last week.

People get warm near a campfire in the aftermath of last week's deadly earthquakes in Hatay.

Duvar English

Former public prosecutor and lawyer Osman Kaçmaz has announced that a citizen, a lawyer by profession, was facing an investigation for writing on Twitter “There is a single question asked by everyone right now: Where is the state?” on Feb. 6. 

Kaçmaz tweeted that the lawyer named Erol Taslak's testimony was taken at the Isparta police station and shared a copy of the police record along with the message of: "Saying 'Where is the state?' is considered as a crime...It is like a joke...." 

Kaçmaz said that the Isparta Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office levied charges of “insulting the state” against Taslak. He said that Taslak had lost his family members in the earthquake in the southern Hatay province and had tried to find them in the rubble.

“He (Taslak) is someone who pulled more than 10 people alive (from the rubble), but could not reach his nephew and family and is still waiting for them to be pulled out of the wreckage,” Kaçmaz wrote.

Turkey’s southern region was hit by two powerful earthquakes on Feb. 6, one at a magnitude of 7.7 and the other 7.6. The government has faced severe criticism over its response to victims, with rescue efforts starting too late. On Feb. 8, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan even himself acknowledged that there have been “shortcomings” in the response but said the winter weather had been a factor.