CHP condemns gov’t for blocking municipalities’ COVID-19 donation campaign
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Seyit Torun has lambasted a decision by the Interior Ministry to block CHP-run municipalities’ donation campaigns to help those hit hardest by the economic consequences of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Don’t halt [the donations]. If the citizens suffer, they will hold you accountable for this,” Torun told reporters at a press conference on April 1.
Citizens have made voluntary donations to CHP-run municipalities, which have received the money under their legal rights, said Torun.
“Those stopping these [donations] are committing a crime,” he stated. “We need to meet the necessities of the people in the regions of these municipalities, he emphasized.
The municipalities can receive “unconditional donations” by law, and only the conditional donations require a decision taken by the municipal assembly, the CHP deputy said in response to the Interior Ministry’s justification to stop the flow of people’s donations.
The majority of the municipal assemblies of the Istanbul and Ankara metropolitan municipalities is made up of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) members.
Torun recalled that other municipalities such as Konya province – run by the AKP – are able to collect donations and that the justification behind allowing them so is that the decisions were taken by the municipal assemblies.
The CHP also plans to file a lawsuit against the government’s move to hamper the donations collected by the CHP, Torun said earlier on March 31.
Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş, meanwhile, said they would no longer use the accounts of lender Vakıfbank for the salaries of municipal employees since the bank has blocked the donation account of the local administration.
On March 31, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said that municipalities run by the main opposition are “not abiding by the laws” in donation campaigns they launched during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a circular, the ministry said the municipalities need to get permission from the corresponding governor’s offices for the launched donation campaigns.
The circular also stipulated that legal action will be launched against the municipalities that carry out campaigns without the governor’s offices’ permissions.
According to articles six and seven of the law on fundraising, individuals and institutions need to get permission from relevant authorities and have to obtain permission from the governor’s offices if the campaign includes at least one district of a province.
“Regardless, some local administrations seem to launch charity campaigns without gaining any permission,” the circular said.
The Istanbul and Ankara metropolitan municipalities, run by the CHP, recently launched their own donation campaigns to provide help to citizens in need during the coronavirus crisis.
After the ministry’s circular, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said in a Twitter post that municipalities and mayors have the authority to accept and collect donations. “This process is completely transparent and will grow with the solidarity of Istanbul residents,” he said.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said he had exchanged a phone call with İmamoğlu and explained to him why this campaign was “illegal.” “They are creating their own state,” Soylu said. In a statement, the ministry announced that legal action will be taken against local governments, foundations or associations in the event that they launch such campaigns without the approval and knowledge of the governor’s offices.
“If you announce bank numbers without permission of the state and the governor and say, ‘I collect aid’,’ that means you want to create another state, that’s so clear,” Soylu said.
Meanwhile, Yavaş said on Twitter that about 94,553 people applied to benefit from the municipality’s campaign. An additional 15,841 people who lost their jobs and have no income also applied to the municipality, he said. “Hopefully, we will not let anyone starve,” he added.