- Advertisement -

Fans of Turkish football club Besiktas, following the example of fans of another football club, Fenerbahce, chanted slogans calling on the Turkish government to step down, almost three weeks after the devastating earthquake in southeastern Turkey, in one of the rare loud and open protests against authorities in the country.

“Government, resign!” chanted by thousands of Besiktas fans in Istanbul at the Inonou Stadium this evening during the league match against Antalyaspor.

- Advertisement -

They also threw stuffed animals on the lawn to honor child victims of the February 6 earthquake that killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and also hit neighboring Syria.

On Saturday, Fenerbahce fans chanted “Lies, deceptions, it’s been 20 years, resign!” during a match against Konyaspor.

After the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, the Turkish government has been heavily criticized by the opposition and independent media for a delayed response to earthquake-hit areas.

With presidential and parliamentary elections looming, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity, already battered by the economic crisis, has taken another hit.

Attempting to silence critics, Ankara temporarily blocked access to Twitter on February 8.

Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) also sanctioned three TV channels for criticizing the government.

“The earthquake not only destroys houses, but also the empire of fear. Even if we ban Twitter or TV channels (…), voices find a void and rise. As it happened in the Fenerbahce stand,” Turkish journalist Mustafa Hos said on Twitter yesterday Saturday.

The fans of Besiktas, one of the Istanbul clubs, are known to be quite close to the opposition.

Open calls for authorities to step down are rare in Turkey after President Erdogan’s tightening of power following an attempted coup against him in 2016.

“As our country struggles against the biggest disaster of the century, chanting resignation slogans during the Fenerbahce-Konijaspor match is irresponsible and absurd,” Devlet Bakhceli, the leader of his coalition partner Nationalist Action party, reacted on Twitter. AKP Justice and Development Party.

Bakhceli even called on clubs to take “urgent and necessary measures” to ensure matches are played without fans.