As the destruction of Akbelen forest in southwestern Turkiye continues without a pause to expand the site of a nearby coal mine, security forces intervened by force with the activists attempting to prevent further tree-cutting in the Milas Province of Aegean Muğla province.
The ecology activists managed to enter the area where trees were being cut down in the evening. Accompanied by two delegates of the Turkish Parliament, the crowd was assaulted by the police and the gendarmerie with water cannons and pepper spray.
Five activists were taken into custody during the intervention.t
Parliaments sit-in protest
Earlier in the evening, Members of the Parliament Perihan Koca and İbrahim Akın with the Greens and Leftist Future Party were rejected to visit the tree-logging area and were assaulted with pressurizes water and pepper gas along with the activist. Requiring access into the area for examination and observation purposes, Koca and Akın started a sit-in protest upon the police’s intervention.
The people in custody were taken to hospital for medical examination and were accompanied by attorneys, Atty. İsmail Hakkı Atal reported.
Nejla Işık, a resident of the İkizköy village that is home to Akbelen and chairperson of İkizköy Environmental Committee, blacked out upon seeing the tree-cutting crews near the trees around her house.
During the intervention, security forces fired gas cartridges into the forest despite the high risk of wildfires in Muğla, a province currently being scorched by an intense heatwave.
More on Akbelen Forest
YK Energy, a joint affiliate of IC Holding and Limak Holding, which is known to have close ties with the Turkish government, intended to cut down the trees in the 740-decare section of the Akbelen Forest to expand a coal mine that would provide lignite to the Yeniköy and Kemerköy thermal power plants.
Although the company had obtained the permissions required, the residents of İkizköy, environmental activists, and lawyers objected to the destruction of the forest through lawsuits and by actively occupying Akbelen for over two years.
On July 24, crews for tree-cutting accompanied by gendarmerie forces swarmed the forest. Hundreds of activists rushed into Akbelen to defend the trees within a matter of hours.
Setting up a barricade, the gendarmerie prevented the residents of İkizköy and ecology activists from entering the area where the crews cut down the trees.
The tension between security forces and defenders of Akbelen has risen and fallen multiple times and ended up with violence against the activist several times.