Kurdish villagers have been protesting against a marble quarry which is due to be built in the village of Yurtbaşı (Şêxan) in the Gürpınar district of Turkey’s eastern province of Van (Wan). Videos showing images of soldiers firing at the protesters were published by media outlets. Despite such intimidation and threats, the villagers have continued to protest and resist such developments.
They are not only angered about the destruction of their barns, but the manner in which the animal husbandry they practice – which they are entirely economically dependent upon – has been affected. Sehernaz Yüce, one of the protesters, states that all of her chickens have died since the barns were burnt down.
“They killed all of our chickens. We do not want this marble quarry to be built.” She also states that her family members were detained by the soldiers while protesting against the project: “They detained my husband and his three brothers. They took four people from our family away. Soldiers and village guards assaulted them.”
Haşem Bilek is another villager from the region. He is also angered by what is happening and finds this attitude of those targeting them disrespectful. “This is how we used to live. They are trying to change it without asking us,” he said, adding: “These barns and the animals we looked after are the only things that we have. They came to our village, they oppressed us, they insulted us.”
“My family consists of five people, including my wife and children. My extended family numbers 30 people in total. Thirty people now have nothing left to eat. The only way we made a living was through our animals, and they were taken them away from us,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the struggle against the ‘Iron Quarry and Crushing and Screening Enrichment Facility,’ which has been operating since 2001, continues in the Dedeyazı village of Malatya’s Wêranşar district. In the Alevi village, where there are about two hundred households, diseases have increased due to the dust clouds that have been generated by these developments. Vineyards and gardens have dried up, and the local water supplies have been polluted. The villagers feel that because they have not voted for the Justice and Development (AKP) party, they have been singled out for this mistreatment.