ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, who has refused to pay his electricity bills in protest of high household energy prices, said authorities cut off the power supply to his home on Thursday.
Residential and business customers were hit with exorbitant utility bills after Turkish authorities sharply raised electricity tariffs on Jan. 1. The price hikes sparked protests, and many small businesses displayed their bills on storefront windows to show how close they were to having to close down.
To provide some relief, the government introduced a set of measures, including readjusting the level under which higher tariffs kick in for households and some businesses using more electricity. Still, many households have struggled to keep up.
The leader of the center-left Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, vowed earlier this year not to pay his electricity bills until the government withdrew the price increases.
“I just got some news from my wife. They cut off our electricity today,” Kilicdaroglu, 73, said in a video posted Thursday on Twitter.
Kilicdaroglu said he wanted to show solidarity with some 3.5 million Turkish households that had their power cut off last year for non-payment, adding that prices have more than 400% in the past three years.
“Energy is a basic human right. It’s like bread, it’s like water, it’s like air. Electricity is my right,” he said. “I wanted to be the voice of those who cannot pay.”
There was no immediate response from government officials.
Turkey’s annual inflation rate soared to a two-decade high of 61% in March, eating away at people’s savings and making it difficult to buy basics like food. Experts say the real rate of inflation could be much higher than the official number.