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Opposition leader prevented from questioning Turkey’s high meat prices at state agency

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Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was denied entry to the headquarters of the Meat and Milk Board in Ankara, where he went with the aim of speaking to officials about the high cost of meat in the country, local media reported on Friday.

The state-controlled board announced a 48 percent increase in red meat prices in March, bringing the price of one kilogram of ground meat to TL 83 ($5.60) and one kilogram of stew meat to TL 92 ($6.20).

“I’ve asked the Meat and Milk Board for an appointment to discuss protecting children’s right to nutrition. There’s no response since they probably couldn’t get permission from some authority,” the CHP leader said in a tweet before heading for the office, referring to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), adding that he was going there anyway at 10 a.m. on Friday.

When Kılıçdaroğlu arrived, along with several other CHP officials including vice chairperson Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, lawmaker Aylin Nazlıaka and Poverty Solidarity Office Coordinator Hacer Foggo, they found the gate to the board’s headquarters locked.

“Today I’m in front of the Meat and Milk Board. The main reason I’m here is to defend the rights of children. … Good nutrition is a right, it is the social state that must provide it,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters after the incident.

Referring to Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişçi’s televised remarks earlier on Friday that there wasn’t anyone in Turkey who is “hungry or homeless,” the CHP leader added the minister was “unaware of Turkey’s realities,” giving the floor to Foggo for the poverty statistics in the country.

“The elderly [and] children are struggling with deep poverty and hunger. In the eastern Anatolia region, 5 percent of children have stunted growth, meaning they are malnourished and chronically hungry. I’ve never really seen a period like this. There are children with developmental disorders,” Foggo said.

In December Kılıçdaroğlu was also denied entry to the headquarters of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), which has been facing claims of manipulating inflation data for political reasons, and to the headquarters of the Education Ministry in Ankara, where he went with the aim of speaking to officials regarding allegations of favoritism in the appointment of public school teachers.

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