Power turned back on at opposition leader’s apartment after he ends protest

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Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and his family have electricity in their Ankara apartment again after the end of a one-week protest he staged against recent hikes in energy prices, the Diken news website reported.

Electricity was supplied to the Kılıçdaroğlu’s apartment on Thursday as the politician paid his electricity bills in the morning, which he had refused to pay for two-and-a-half months in an act of protest.

Last Thursday power to Kılıçdaroğlu’s apartment was cut due to the unpaid bills. The politician said he and his wife would spend one week in the dark to bring the situation of families who are left without electricity for failing to pay their bills to public attention and to emphasize with them.

“I took this path for the millions who are subjected to this. My action is not a call for civil disobedience. It is an act of resistance. My protest is aimed at being a voice for the families and children who are left in darkness,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in last Thursday in a video message.

The CHP leader had tweeted another video in February calling on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to cancel the increases in electricity prices, which he “undersigned personally on the night of December 31,” adding that he wouldn’t pay his electricity bills until Erdoğan reversed the price hikes.

“You did this [increased electricity prices], [that’s why] you’ll cancel them,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Turks started 2022 with news of jacked-up prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades.

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced on Jan. 1 that it had raised electricity prices by 52 percent for lower-demand households for the new year and 127 percent for high-demand commercial users, while the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) raised natural gas prices by 25 percent for households and 50 percent for industrial users.

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s call, a number of Turks posted tweets protesting high electricity bills under the hashtags #faturamıödemiyorum (I’m not paying my bill), #SıraSende (It’s your turn) and #IBAN, which became top trending topics in Turkey.

Thousands of people across Turkey also have held demonstrations against the rising electricity prices they have faced since the beginning of the year.

In response to the widespread protests, President Erdoğan in early March announced a reduction of the sales tax on electricity used in residences and agricultural irrigation from 18 percent to 8 percent.

According to a report drafted by CHP lawmaker and deputy chairman Ahmet Akın based on a number of questions he directed to the country’s Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, 3,449,000 customers of electricity distribution companies and around 1,093,000 subscribers of natural gas distribution companies had their electricity and natural gas supply disconnected in 2021 due to unpaid bills.

The figures showed that an average of 378,000 electricity and natural gas subscribers were cut off every month in 2021.

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