Yakup Okumuşoğlu, a lawyer and member of the Environment and Ecology Movement, spoke to MA regarding the ongoing trial over the stone quarry construction. ”We are fighting for our nature. We cannot just leave those people who are resisting there and fighting to protect their forests. There is hope here, we can protect life here,” he said.
Villagers filed a lawsuit against the construction project which would sees dozens of trees uprooted and continue with their protest to save a dense forest in the area, İşkencedere Valley which is one of 200 protected valleys in the world and considered one of the most precious nature spaces.
The Cengiz Construction company which is famous for its close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) , and has conducted several infrastructure projects, starting with a stone quarry project on April 21 in the İşkencedere Valley. To prevent the arrival of the protesting villagers, gendarmerie forces have blockaded the area with heavy work machines, and then used tear gas against villagers and detaining several of them.
Lawyer Okumuşoğlu recalled that the same situation was experienced in the “Green Road” project (the project was initially planned to connect highlands of the biggest provinces with a 2,600-km road as part of developing tourism in the Black Sea but faced resistance of the locals) Okumuşoğlu said ”The construction work of the stone quarry in the region must halt immediately, especially in conditions where trees are cut down because there will be no return after such damage is inflicted on the environment”.
Okumuşoğlu drew attention to the commitment of people to protect their region. “These people are struggling in the courts despite their economic hardships, they came here, risking all kinds of punishment on the days of the pandemic restrictions.”
”This is one of 200 protected ecological regions of the world. Valleys should definitely be protected but we are gradually destroying this place. We are told in the courts that ” Wild life can grow up everywhere but this is not true there is no other place for nature. Wildlife is gradually disappearing as humans are destroying it. It is a struggle for survival here. We will continue this struggle until the end,” he said.