The Turkish state continues to use forest fires to bring about ecological destruction in the Kurdistan region of Turkey.
This week, fire has started in the Lice district of Diyarbakır (Amed). While the cause of the fire could not be confirmed, it has spread from the forest area to settlements, vineyards and gardens.
Residents have been trying to control the fire on their own.
Eco-destruction as a war policy
Turkey’s policy of eco-crime is longstanding, and has rendered thousands of hectares of forests, pastures, and fields unusable.
Dams are used as a political and military weapon whose affects are felt over vast areas and across political boundaries. Fires are used to destroy natural forests and cultivated crops, and have been deliberately ignited in Kurdish areas within Turkey itself, and across the border in Syria and Northern Iraq.
Looking only at the brief period of the last week of June until the first week of July, the Turkish army burned down forest in the Cudi Mountain area in south-east Turkey, and in a wide area of Xantur in Iraq. Army bombardments set alight areas of Sida, in the Zap region of Iraq, and the village of Bunisra and wild forest around the city of Kulp in Turkey.
Besides their ecological destruction, these fires force people to leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere.
The United Nations Convention on Environmental Modification (which was opened for signature on 18 May 1977 and entered into force on 5th October 1978) prohibits the use of military techniques that create widespread, long-lasting, or serious environmental modifications or damages.
Turkey signed this agreement, but ignores it on the grounds of ‘the right to defend the state’ – an argument that would make useless any attempt at rules to limit the destruction of war.
Vahap Işıklı, the spokeperson for the Alliance for the Protection of the Historical Hevsel Gardens in Diyarbakir (Amed) pointed out the consequences of ecological destruction in Kurdistan and also in western regions of Turkey – including the spread of disease.