Main opposition leader: Gov’t corruption in construction sector to blame for quake destruction
In a video recorded in the quake-stricken province of Hatay, Turkish main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that government corruption in the construction sector has exacerbated the tragedy. “I don’t ever see this issue (destruction caused by the earthquake) as something beyond politics. We have come to this point because of his politics,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdardoğlu has criticized the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government over the widespread destruction caused by the Feb. 6 major earthquakes, pointing to the reported government corruption in the construction sector and authorities’ turning a blind eye to the poorly enforced building standards.
He said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP government has not “prepared the country for the earthquakes” despite being in power for over 20 years. “That is why I am never thinking of meeting with him (Erdoğan). I don’t ever see this issue (destruction caused by the earthquake) as something beyond politics. We have come to this point because of his politics,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a video recorded in the quake-stricken Hatay province late on Feb. 7.
Kılıçdaroğlu inquired about where the country’s resources have been flowing into and what happened to the billions of liras worth of “quake taxes” that the government has started collecting after the major 1999 Marmara Earthquake.
After two major earthquakes, one in magnitude 7.7 and the other in magnitude 7.6, struck southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6, Kılıçdaroğlu has left Ankara for the region where he has been conducting meetings with local mayors, party representatives and residents.
“They (government) have consumed up the earthquake taxes with their gangs. Where is that money? That money is gone. People who have been paying taxes to the state all their lives, are unable to see that state once they need it. All exist for (Presidential) Palace. Whenever he takes this country down, he makes calls of ‘Stand by me.’ I would have nothing to do with you, and will never have,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“This destruction is the result of the systematic unearned income (rant) politics. I will never meet on the same ground with Erdoğan, his palace and gangs of unearned income.”
Jailed former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has voiced support for Kılıçdaroğlu, tweeting: "A both powerful solidarity and powerful political stance is very important, valuable for us to overcome this difficult period in collaboration."
Hem güçlü bir dayanışma hem de güçlü bir siyasi duruş, bu zor dönemi el ele vererek atlatmamız için çok önemlidir, kıymetlidir. https://t.co/2GsRqd3znR— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) February 8, 2023
As the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes have led to massive destruction, many have been questioning the poorly enforced building standards, with thousands of demolished structures seen as evidence that they were built with improper materials.
Experts and urban planners in Turkey have long warned that building regulations with regards to seismic activity are not sufficiently enforced and have been undermined by a controversial amnesty for illegal construction that was introduced by the AKP, bringing in billions of liras in revenue for the government and the closely-linked construction companies.