NEWS CENTER - Following a circular by the Interior Ministry, a state-owned bank has blocked the donation accounts of İstanbul and Ankara municipalities, bianet has learned.
The mayors of the two largest cities of the country, both from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), had launched donation campaigns to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Vakıfbank has not made a statement yet, Tarık Balyalı, CHP's municipal council group spokesperson, confirmed to bianet that the accounts have been blocked.
Citing Law No 5393 on Municipalities, Balyalı said that municipalities have the authority to collect donations unconditionally. "It is really hard to understand what kind of policy this is. While it is necessary to fight against the coronavirus in such difficult days, it is unbelievable that the government acts this way," he said.
The Interior Ministry stated in the circular that the municipalities did not abide by the law, citing articles six and seven of the law on fundraising which says individuals and institutions need to get permission from relevant authorities and have to obtain permission from the governor's offices.
President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday (March 30) launched a "solidarity campaign."
Speaking to Ülke TV, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accused the municipalities of "attempting to form a new state" by collecting donations without getting permission from authorities.
He also said that he spoke on the phone with İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and told him why it was necessary for them to get permission.
The two mayors responded to the ministry's circular on Twitter, with İmamoğlu saying that municipalities and mayors have the authority to accept and collect donations.
Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş said that a total of 94,553 people applied to benefit from their campaign, including 15,841 people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"The bank accounts that we use to support people who have lost their jobs and income and which you contribute to have been blocked by an Interior Ministry circular," he said. "Nobody should worry! We will continue the aids we planned. We will not leave anyone starving."