Police have detained a woman for protesting Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli over the government's inadequate response to the ongoing wildfires, Turkish media outlets said on Aug. 6.
Pakdemir was faced with a group of women's protests as he was visiting the Fesleğen and Ortaköy neighborhoods of the fire-hit Milas district on Aug. 4. The protest of the women was recorded on mobile phones.
“It is only now that the [firefighiting] helicopters have come. The tensions are running high. We have waited for you until 4.30 a.m. in the morning. Where were the [firefighting] helicopters? People's properties, lands have been burned down. We have toiled [to extinugish] the fires until the morning. Shame on you! Shame on the government,” one of the women told the minister, calling on government officials to resign.
Bakan Pakdemirli'ye halktan tepki: "Hükümet istifa" | Orman Bakanı Bekir Pakdemirli'ye yangın bölgesinde yurttaşlar tepki gösterdi. Bir kadın, bakana "Helikopterler nerede? Hükümet istifa" dedi, gözaltına alındı. Pakdemirli ise çareyi kaçmakta buldu. #tayyiperdoğanistifaet pic.twitter.com/hzhtFZf59d— Hergele Postası (@HergelePostasi) August 5, 2021
As the locals asked the minister why it has taken him so long to visit the fire-hit areas, the minister contented himself with merely saying, “We are here.”
Upon the reaction, Pakdemirli and his accompanying delegation did not stay at the area for long, but the women continued to undertake their protest, saying: “We have been here for the last two days. The fire could have been extinguished if the helicopters had come.”
Tens of thousands of hectares of forest have been destroyed in Mediterranean and Aegean provinces in what is called Turkey's worst-ever wildfires. Eight people have died and thousands of Turks and tourists have fled.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government is facing increased criticism over its apparent poor response and inadequate preparedness in the face of large-scale wildfires.
Last week, Erdoğan admitted that Turkey did not have one single usable firefighting aircraft fleet. The opposition accused the government of failing to procure firefighting planes and instead of spending money on construction projects that are harmful to the environment.