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Top bar association files complaint against Turkish Red Crescent for selling tents to relief organization

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The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) has filed a complaint against the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) for selling tents to a relief organization three days after two powerful earthquakes in February left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Kronos news website.

Eleven provinces in the country’s south and southeast were hit by two powerful earthquakes, registering magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5, on February 6, which were followed by numerous aftershocks, leading to the death of more than 44,000 people in Turkey and wreaking devastation in the region as well as in northwest Syria.

In the complaint the TBB demanded that the leadership of Kızılay be prosecuted on charges of “misconduct in public office.”

The TBB said selling tents violates humanitarian law, international human rights law and the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Cumhuriyet daily columnist Murat Ağırel revealed last week that Kızılay had sold 2,050 tents to the Foundation of Anatolian People and Peace Platform (AHBAP), Turkish rock star Haluk Levent’s relief organization. Kızılay sold the tents for 46 million Turkish lira ($2.4 million), rather than donating them.

Ağırel’s claims were confirmed by both AHBAP and Kızılay chair Kerem Kınık, who said on Twitter that Kızılay Çadır, a subsidiary of his organization in charge of producing the tents, had provided them to AHBAP “at cost” and that their cooperation was “moral, reasonable and ethical.”

Levent on Monday said they also purchased 30,000 packages of food good for a year, with one package allowing them to provide three meals to a family of four, from Kızılay Lojistik, a subsidiary of the Red Crescent.

In his Tuesday column for Cumhuriyet, Ağırel said Kızılay also sold tents to Michelin, gas station chain Opet and white goods manufacturer Arçelik in addition to selling second-hand items donated to it.

“According to Kızılay’s 2021 activity report, it sold 1,000,000 second-hand items in 2019 and 759,000 more in 2020. Kızılay [is] run by a general manager who receives a monthly salary of TL 98,000 [$5,188] … and assistant general managers who are paid TL 76,000 [$4,024],” Ağırel said.

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