HDP co-chair: The virus spread as the government acted too late

HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar criticises the Turkish government's policy in the corona crisis and announces the establishment of an alternative nationwide crisis centre involving professional organisations and trade unions.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Mithat Sancar commented on current developments in the corona crisis. His statement was broadcast live on Twitter from his home in Ankara after the meeting of HDP's central executive board earlier today.

The HDP co-chair criticised that the Turkish government had not been prepared for the corona pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic outbreak in Turkey, he said, the issue had not been taken seriously, and for that reason, measures had been introduced far too late.

"Today Turkey is one of the countries where the virus is spreading rapidly. And why? There is no strategy in health policy. Three weeks have passed since the first confirmed case of infection and it is obvious what the government has done and failed to do since then. It has presented proposals that will bring in an influx of funds for capital. These have been brought to parliament and passed. What is needed, however, are funds that enable people to stay in their homes," said Mithat Sancar.

No transparency, wrong priorities

The HDP co-chair criticised the centralism and the lack of transparency in government’s policy on the corona crisis, and said that all public funds should have been invested in the health of society. Instead, he said, funds have continued to flow into other projects: "In particular, attempts were made to implement the Kanal Istanbul project, known as a bottomless pit. This is an example of great irresponsibility."

HDP mobilised from the first day

"Yet on the first day, we in the HDP formed a crisis coordination group in which party colleagues from various fields are represented. Linked to this crisis coordination are expert commissions on issues such as economy, social policy, migrants and health. Their reports have been made public already. However, since the government has secured a monopoly over the media, there is a major handicap. We have difficulties in making our opinions known to a broad public."

Native language information

"Furthermore, the government prevents the right to use native language information. This is a major problem," said the HDP co-chair, referring to the deposition of mayors in eight other town halls run by his party last week. In the province of Batman, one of the first official acts of the trustee appointed after the suspension of the elected co-mayors was to delete the Kurdish language service on the website of the municipality. "We have started a Kurdish awareness campaign and are trying to spread information in other languages such as Syriac, Armenian and Arabic," Sancar said.

What are the people supposed to live on?

An urgent problem in Turkey, according to Sancar, is that although the people are called upon to stay at home, many are not able to do so for financial reasons. "How are the people without a sufficient income supposed to finance their living? How can they take care of their health and nutrition? These are very legitimate questions and the real responsibility lies with the government, because it holds the public funds in its hands. The entire public budget belongs to society and must be used for its benefit. A first step would be to finance paid leave, the HDP co-chair said.

Crisis Centre and Science Council as an alternative

Mithat Sancar called for the creation of solidarity networks in neighbourhoods and villages to support those in need. He also called for the involvement of the medical associations and trade unions in the fight against the pandemic. At its meeting today, the HDP board discussed the establishment of an alternative national crisis centre.

"We must not leave the future of society to the arbitrary and wrong government policies. We must break away from this way of thinking. All professional organisations and institutions that can make a contribution should make their preparations and form a joint nationwide crisis centre. Discussions have already taken place on this issue, but we must now finally get to the point. I hope we can bring our work to a constructive level this week. At our meeting we also discussed the distribution of tasks for the establishment of an alternative science council and we will start immediately,” added Sancar.