Nearly 200 people, including some 100 members of the opposition Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), were briefly detained for protesting the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) selling rather than donating tents for people made homeless by major earthquakes in Turkey earlier this month, Turkish Minute reported.
The earthquakes, which struck on Feb. 6, killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and thousands more in neighboring Syria.
The protests in front of the Kızılay building in İstanbul took place after Murat Ağırel, a journalist for the Cumhuriyet daily, reported that the Turkish Red Crescent had sold 2,050 tents to the Foundation of Anatolian People and Peace Platform (AHBAP) relief organization for 46 million Turkish lira ($2.4 million) three days after the quakes.
Turkish Red Crescent Chairman Kerem Kınık on Sunday confirmed in a series of tweets that Kızılay Çadır, a subsidiary of his organization in charge of producing the tents, had provided them to AHBAP “at cost,” adding that their cooperation with AHBAP was “moral, reasonable and ethical.”
More than 100 people arguing that the tents should have been provided immediately and free of charge to victims after the quakes were detained in the protest organized by the Labor, Peace and Democracy Forces, comprising over 20 political parties, labor unions and nongovernmental organizations, according to Turkish media reports.
Journalist Emre Orman said in a tweet in the early hours of Monday that they were being gradually released.
According to a press statement by TİP Central Executive Board (MYK) member Doğan Ergün on Sunday, nearly 100 members of the party were also detained by police officers who blockaded the area around the TİP building in Kadıköy and prevented them from holding a protest in front of the Kızılay branch in the same district.
According to tweets by journalist Orman, police tried to prevent İzel Sezer, editor-in-chief of İleri Haber, from recording their intervention in the protest by squeezing her throat and also kicked a member of TİP who was lying on the ground.
Turkish media on Monday cited TİP as saying in a tweet that “all our members and volunteers,” including earthquake survivors, were released in the morning after a brief detention.
Meanwhile, Özge Akman and several other members from the Workers’ Movement Party (EHP), a Marxist–Leninist communist party in Turkey, were also detained early on Monday after making a statement regarding the sale of tents in front of the Kızılay building in Kadıköy and calling on the government to resign.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was itself accused of failing to distribute sufficient tents, humanitarian aid and relief teams in several locations in the days following the earthquakes.