Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) has ordered the mayors in İzmir province, which was hit by a powerful earthquake last month, to refrain from making any comments to the public about the disaster and its aftermath, according to Turkish media reports.
AFAD sent a circular to the İzmir Governor’s Office banning mayors as well as neighborhood heads, or muhtars, and other public officials from speaking about the magnitude 6.9 earthquake, which claimed the lives of 116 people and injured more than 1,000 others.
The İzmir Municipality, long known as a stronghold of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is currently run by a mayor from that opposition party.
CHP İzmir provincial branch head Deniz Yücel tweeted a copy of the circular sent by AFAD to the İzmir Governor’s Office, saying that İzmir’s elected officials will not receive permission to tell the public the truth about the earthquake.
“When there is a crisis, they [the government] say, ‘Don’t speak.’ When there is an injustice, they say, ‘Don’t seek your rights.’ When there is a theft, they say, ‘Ignore it.’ When there is a pandemic, they say, ‘Don’t distribute aid to the public.’ The latest indication of this mentality has been banning our mayors from speaking about measures to be taken against quakes and the [post-quake] aid to be distributed to the public in İzmir,” tweeted Yücel.
He said the government makes the mistake of treating elected mayors as its bureaucrats or public servants, describing AFAD’s order as “null and void.”