Scandal, mystery persists over Istanbul’s missing horses
Horses rescued from car pulling on Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands sparked yet another scandal years later. Investigations have revealed that the animals, sent across Turkey by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB), were missing. IBB and the municipalities where they delivered the animals have come under fire, while new reports show some of the horses may have been smuggled or sold in Iraq. Meanwhile, animal rights activists are questioning the condition of the remaining horses on the islands which are said to be kept in unsanitary conditions.
IBB delivered the horses to several municipalities across the country after horse-drawn carriages were banned on the city’s Princes’ Islands in 2019.
The issue of horses, which has been under discussion for more than two years, received renewed attention thanks to a statement by Deputy Leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Cahit Altunay on May 1.
Altunay, who is also responsible for the environment, city and cultural affairs, criticized IBB for its mismanagement of the process in a meeting on May 1.
He said after the ban on horse-drawn carriages, IBB demanded to take over the process of rehabilitating and transferring the horses to their new homes, which was the responsibility of the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry. and that was going well. Shortly thereafter, horse shipments ceased and the whereabouts of 978 horses remain unknown.
In response, IBB, in a written statement on its official website, affirmed that the horses, which have been transferred free of charge to public institutions and organizations, are now the responsibility of the relevant bodies and that IBB no longer assumes any liability. .
“As is known, the purchase of 1,179 horses was finalized in accordance with the decision of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council of January 16, 2020, and numbered 25. With the registration of 20 foals born to pregnant horses purchased by us while they were being taken care of, a total of 1199 horses were under the responsibility of the BWI.However, according to the decision of the Istanbul City Council of March 12, 2020, the horse ownership process has was completed and a total of 860 horses were adopted. A total of 665 horses belonged to public institutions and organizations, 42 to non-governmental organizations, 148 to individuals and 5 to mukhtars. A total of 224 horses died for various reasons during the process of caring for horses on the islands. Some 115 horses are cared for in BWI’s body. “
However, animal rights activists are not on the same side as IBB, whose treatment of horses outraged them and led to protests lasting more than two years.
The Princes’ Islands Horse Platform volunteers called on authorities to investigate the situation, saying on Wednesday they were concerned about the fate of 860 horses sent to different provinces and 114 horses to stables on one of the islands. Princes.
Speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA), Zeynep Alper, a volunteer at the Princes’ Islands Horse Platform, said that as a result of the imprisonment the horses are dying.
“Unfortunately, IBB is still trying to mislead the public instead of improving the conditions of the horses, freeing the horses it has imprisoned and finding the lost horses,” she said.
Alper and other volunteers accused the mayor of the Istanbul metropolis Ekrem Imamoğlu and IBB of lying. “Imamoğlu is not telling the truth. He says, “The horses are happy”, but in fact, they are imprisoned. He says, “We take good care” but they never even take the horses out. He said, “Anyone can visit the stable, but they don’t allow us to go in,” she said.
Melis Yılmaz, another volunteer of the platform, spoke about the scandal in the municipality of Dörtyol. She said the process was not sufficiently supervised and therefore IBB was at fault. Yılmaz addressed the authorities saying:
“The horses have been transferred since June 2020. We have learned from the scandal of the municipality of Dörtyol that the horses are handed over to a third party, we announced it but nobody cares. We have been asking for answers for months but the only time the parties offer an explanation is when the issue becomes a political controversy. They are not transparent and do not take into account the warnings of those who have closely followed the case of the horses. Imamoğlu said he would conduct follow-up inspections of the horses in their new homes. He should have done these inspections and explained where the horses are now and how many are alive. “
One of the allegations made in the investigation of the Dörtyol Municipality scandal was that the horses whose microchips were mined in Adana were first sold to Şırnak and then to northern Iraq. The investigation was therefore carried out in Adana, Şırnak and other border provinces.
However, there is still no clear information about the horses and the investigation is an ongoing process.