Vahap Işıklı, an activist of the Mesopotamia Ecology Association and the joint spokesperson for the Protect Hevsel Platform shared his evaluations on the plunder of nature in Turkey and Kurdistan with ANF.
Işıklı said that nature was being decimated by Turkey’s scorched earth policies in Kurdistan, and referred to the village guards (also known as “korucu” in Turkish, referring to state controlled militias in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority east and southeast) cutting down trees following a forest fire in the Besta region of Şırnak (Şîrnêx).
“After tenders to cut the trees were given to the village guards, 450,000 tons of trees were cut down within a year in the Cudi mountains,” he said.
He shared his view of the different policies applied when fires break out in Turkey to those breaking out in Kurdistan.
He emphasised that fires breaking out in western Turkey are extinguished on the same day, whereas those that break out as a result of military operations in the Kurdish majority east are not extinguished for a long time if at all.
“In Turkey fires are set for profit and in Kurdistan for ‘security reasons’. They build hotels on the sites of burnt forests in Turkey, while in Kurdsitan they build police and gendarme stations,” he said.
By its pillaging of nature, Işıklı added, Turkey is repeating its policies of the 1990s, when it destroyed the lands from which the Kurds made their living, displacing them and forcing them to assimilate in cities in the west of Turkey.
“A week ago the same thing happened in Lice. Two days ago another fire broke out in Silopi in the Cudi mountains, and it is still raging. This is a special policy targetting Kurdistan’s nature. Every summer they burn and cut down trees due to their war policies,” he said.
“We went there a year ago as an institution and we saw with our own eyes how the nature had been burnt and plundered. These tenders are still ongoing. They are now doing the same thing in Derxun village and other villages in Lice, an area of 98 hectares.”
He said that the scorched earth and tree-cutting policy ongoing in Turkey is also now becoming normal in Iraqi Kurdistan, noting that the Iraqi government had expressed its opposition to this and criticised the Kurdistan Regional Government ruled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for remaining silent.
Işıklı said that the wanton destruction of nature was continuing apace all around and made a call for a joint struggle against it.