An anti-vaccine protest brings together 20,000 people in Istanbul

An anti-vaccine protest brings together 20,000 people in Istanbul

Istanbul, Sep 11 (EFE) .- Some twenty thousand people on Saturday showed their skepticism about the coronavirus pandemic and criticized vaccines, when in Turkey they are concerned that even half of the population has not yet been immunized.

The meeting, called “The Great Awakening”, took place on a esplanade surrounded by a fence and with a large police presence, which required attendees to wear masks and respect social distance, although once inside the area, no attendant carried them. put.

According to a government ordinance, it is mandatory to present a negative PCR test to attend these types of events in the case of not being vaccinated. However, neither the organization of the meeting nor the police asked the attendees for any proof, as Efe was able to verify.

The meeting was organized by the Anatolian Union Party, an Islamist formation without parliamentary representation.

Attendees waved Turkish flags and raised banners with the messages “Get your hands out of our children”, “We will resist against the vaccine” and “We are not guinea pigs”, among others.

Abdurrahman Dilipak, a columnist known for his pro-government positions and one of the organizers of the event, was the first to appear on stage to declare his fight against “global powers” and called for the closure of the World Organization office. of Health (WHO) in Turkey.

“We have been prevented from visiting family and friends. They told us not to shake hands with anyone or hug each other. Take the hand of the person next to you. We will break this set of restrictions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the crowd clamored for the resignation of the Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, and criticized the new government restrictions to prevent infections in schools, such as requiring a negative PCR test for those who are not vaccinated.

“The vaccine is not mandatory but if they require a test for our children, they make it mandatory. If they do not remove this measure, I will take my children out of school,” Burcu Pekmez, one of the assistants, told Efe.

CONTROVERTED PROTEST

The meeting has generated criticism of the Government by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and opposition parties, who have questioned whether the authorities allow such a protest while in the last year dozens of demonstrations have been banned on the grounds of of “avoiding coronavirus infections”.

At first the governor of the district where the protest took place banned the meeting, but it was finally approved by the governor of Istanbul province, led by the ruling Islamist AKP party.

“The government does not adopt a consistent stance towards anti-vaccine groups so as not to lose votes,” TTB president Sebnem Korur Financi told Turkish media.

“The coronavirus epidemic is a public health problem. We all have a social responsibility to protect each other,” he added.

RETICENCY TO VACCINES

Today’s protest coincides with a public debate on the slowness of the vaccination process in Turkey, with 48% of the population immunized with the two guidelines, due to the reluctance of many citizens to get vaccinated.

Although the authorities have opened the vaccination process to 12-year-olds and can choose between the German Pfizer and the Chinese Sinovac, about 18 million people who could be immunized have not yet been vaccinated.

While in some provinces such as Mugla, on the Aegean coast, 70% of the population has received the two guidelines, in others such as Sanliurfa or Mardin, in the southeast of the country, only 20 and 25% of the population respectively have received two doses.

The Scientific Committee of Turkey, an advisory body of the Government, attributes it to “rumors about vaccines” that generate mistrust among the population.

“The contradictory data on the efficacy of some vaccines could have influenced in the decrease of the confidence of these. While the young population falsely believes that it will not be affected by the coronavirus if it is infected,” said Alper Sener, a member of the Committee recently. .

Since last August, the Government has carried out a mobile vaccination campaign with buses that run through the provinces and neighborhoods with the lowest vaccination rate to inform the population and facilitate the immunization process.

For two months the number of infections has remained stable at 20,000 daily cases, while the number of deaths has been increasing to 200 daily deaths.

By Lara Villalón

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