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Turkish singer stands behind donations entrusted his charity amid growing pressure

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In an apparent attempt to ease concerns about the possible government seizure of donations made to his non-profit organization for the victims of a powerful earthquake, Turkish rock singer Haluk Levent has promised to use the funds wisely and not let any organization hijack them.

The Foundation of Anatolian People and Peace Platform (AHBAP), which has Levent on its board of directors and a network of volunteers in 68 provinces across Turkey, has won the support and trust of millions in Turkey and around the world with its relief efforts after last week’s major earthquakes.

The volunteers have been participating in search and rescue efforts, collecting all kinds of aid and raising funds for the quake victims.

The charity’s popularity has grown exponentially since the disaster, with many celebrities and international companies choosing to send their donations through AHBAP, saying they trust the organization more than the Turkish government, which drew the ire of government officials and supporters.

In the face of increasing pressure from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, Levent on Thursday said in a tweet aimed at reassuring benefactors that he would use the donations wisely and without passing them into other hands.

“Your money is my honor! I will not give it to anyone! … Remember, no one can do AHBAP wrong,” Levent said.

The singer also announced that he had received phone calls from seven companies after talking to Turkey’s state-run housing authority, TOKİ, about building new apartment blocks for the earthquake victims.

“We will invite them all to AHBAP. Whichever one offers [to do the job] for a reasonable price and compliance with the building code, we will get it done by that company,” Levent added.

AHBAP has received more than TL 1 billion ($53 million) from its benefactors, including TikTok, Yves Rocher, Tyrrell Investments Limited, Uber, LG, Bitfinex and McDonald’s in addition to ordinary Turkish citizens, businessmen and celebrities since two major earthquakes hit southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6.

The charity, which is accused by some government officials and supporters of equating itself with the state, was recently targeted by the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, an election ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

The 7.8-magnitude quake that struck near the city of Gaziantep as people slept has so far claimed the lives of 38,044 people across 10 southeastern provinces hardest hit by the disaster, according to the latest official figures. It was followed by thousands of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that struck the region later the same day.

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