Ninety-seven protestors who had gathered in İstabul’s Kadıköy district shortly after two powerful earthquakes hit Turkey’s south earlier this year claiming that corruption was the cause of the ensuing devastation and high death toll have been indicted, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.
The earthquakes on Feb. 6, which registered magnitudes of 7.8. and 7.5. were the biggest quake disaster in the history of modern Turkey, claiming the lives of more than 50,000 people, according to official figures.
The protestors from the İstanbul Labor, Peace and Democracy Forces, a pro-Kurdish and left-wing group, wanted to make a press statement in Kadıköy on Feb. 26 but were prevented by the police, who cited a ban from the Kadıköy district governor’s office.
More than 100 protestors were briefly detained.
The protestors were going to claim in their press statement that it wasn’t the earthquakes but rather government corruption that was the cause of the deaths and devastation on Feb. 6.
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an indictment against 97 of the protestors on charges of violating the law on meetings and demonstrations.
The first hearing of the trial will be held on May 28.
Critics say the earthquakes led to such a massive tragedy because President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose party has been in power for more than two decades, has centralized power in his own hands, hollowed out state institutions, placed loyalists in key positions, wiped out most civil society organizations and enriched his cronies to create a small circle of loyalists around him.
Erdoğan is accused of benefitting close associates from the construction sector by awarding them infrastructure projects without competitive tenders or proper regulatory oversight.
The earthquakes left more than 1.5 million people homeless in Turkey.