Environmental activists have called for a march this month to Mount Cudi in Turkey’s southeastern Şırnak province, where many locals believe the Turkish state intentionally set forest fires as part of an anti-Kurdish policy, reported ANF news agency.
Speaking at a press meeting in Diyarbakır (Amed) on Monday, Mezopotamya Ecology Movement members Mirad Bilgiç and Derya Akyol read a joint declaration in Turkish and Kurdish vowing to take collective action against the forest fires.
Referring to the Turkish authorities, Derya Akyol said “invaders who see themselves as sovereign” were causing massive environmental destruction while exploiting the Kurdish region.
“The attacks on our history, culture and nature have reached the most brutal dimensions, and the Kurds have become a target with policies that aim to destroy our cultural memory” said Akyol.
“Although the fires continue for days, no one intervenes, and citizens are prevented from putting the fires out themselves,” she said, calling on citizens to meet on 17 September in the Şırnak’s city of Cizre (Cizîr) to march to Cudi.
Massive fires have been breaking out in forested areas on and around Mount Cudi this year. In May, a fire blazed through the mountain’s foothills near a military police base, and the authorities let it burn while also preventing locals from intervening.
Many locals believe the forest fires are part of a strategy by the Turkish state that aims to deprive the country’s Kurdish minority of their livelihoods and force them to leave their homelands.
Naci Sönmez co-spokesperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s Ecology Commission, drew attention to the silence across wider Turkey and called on the country’s left wing to speak out about the environmental destruction.
“While the forests are burning in Kurdistan, I am calling out to socialists who do not speak up. They should not call themselves socialists unless they speak out against the destruction of nature,” said Sönmez.
Saliha Aydeniz, the co-chair of DBP stressed that plunder and destruction made up the main ideology of colonialism.
“The plunder of trees and nature carried out in Kurdistan is a century-old policy of depopulation. It is a policy of ignoring and annihilating the Kurds. As a result of the fires, the losers will not only be the Kurds, but the peoples of Turkey,” said Aydeniz.
Berdan Öztürk, the co-chair of the HDP-affiliated Democratic Regions Party (DBP) said Turkish troops had used the destruction of forests to depopulate Kurdish areas during military operations in in northern Syria and northern Iraq.