Pervin Buldan, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government should have resigned after their poor response to massive earthquakes last week, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.
Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years struck near the city of Gaziantep, home to some 2 million people and located on the border with Syria, on Feb. 6. Officials say nearly 42,000 people have died so far in Turkey and neighboring Syria.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which occurred while people were still asleep, was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region amid search-and-rescue efforts that same day.
Buldan visited earthquake victims on Thursday in the Islahiye district of Gaziantep and said Erdoğan and his government should have resigned since they did a poor job of coordinating search and rescue efforts after the quakes.
Stating that there are people waiting to be rescued from under the rubble even 11 days after the earthquakes, Buldan added that it was now their “duty” to send the AKP government packing in upcoming elections slated for May.
“If this government had a conscience and some [shame], all of them, including the president, would have resigned in the first two days [after the quakes]. However, they have neither the [shame] nor the conscience to resign,” Buldan said.
The HDP co-chair also said it was a “shameful” move by the governor of the Pazarcık district of Kahramanmaraş, the epicenter of the first earthquake, to confiscate the aid collected by the Hasankoca Neighborhood Aid and Solidarity Association, where earthquake assistance is being organized under the coordination of the HDP and several labor unions.
Since last week’s quakes, many volunteers and social media users inside and outside Turkey have sent donations through nongovernmental organizations rather than government institutions such as Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), saying they trust charity organizations more than the Turkish government, which drew the ire of government officials and supporters.
After the quakes, the AKP government was mainly accused of failing to mobilize enough people for the effort and a lack of coordination among the teams, which resulted in civilians in some regions trying to pull their loved ones from under the rubble themselves and finding them frozen to death although they sustained no critical injuries when the building collapsed.
Many social media users also complained about the lack of basic necessities, such as water, blankets and tents as well as medical supplies.