Turkish gendarmerie entered the Akbelen forest in south-west Turkey on Tuesday to dismantle tents set up by villagers protesting against the construction of a lignite coal mine.
All the materials used by the protesters were loaded onto a truck and delivered to the local forestry directorate. Checkpoints were set up on the highway to restrict access to the forest area, and one person was arrested during the operation.
Signal jammers were brought into the area, causing communication problems for the activists, who feared that the trees in the vigil area would also be cut down once evacuated.
The Muğla Governor’s Office denied the allegations of tree felling, calling them unfounded and claiming that the tents and containers in the area were unauthorised and had been removed for security reasons at the request of the private landowner.
The landowner later disputed the Governor’s Office’s claim and submitted a petition to the District Governor stating that he had never requested the evacuation of the area.
Turkish security forces have been clashing with environmental activists and villagers in the Akbelen forest located in the Milas district of Muğla, since the end of July, when logging for the coal mine began.
The Akbelen forest was sold to an energy company, and then in 2019 the Ministry of Agriculture gave the company permission to set up a lignite coal mine that would require intensive deforestation. For the past four years, villagers in the region have been fighting against the proposed coal mine. For the last two years, they have maintained a vigilant presence in the forest to prevent deforestation.