`Farmers and Police Clash in Turkey Over Clearing of Trees - Olive Oil Times

Farmers and Police Clash in Turkey Over Clearing of Trees

By Olive Oil Times Staff
Nov. 7, 2014 13:21 UTC
Photo: Greenpeace Turkey

One day of last September, in Turkey, in the area of of Soma, a city sadly known for a recent mine tragedy, farm­ers woke up and found high wire fences sur­round­ing their olive trees.

The fence was erected, with­out any notice, after a deci­sion by the Council of Ministers on last May to expro­pri­ate about 388,000 square meters of olive groves to install a Thermal Power Plant.

Despite the offi­cial protests of local politi­cians and the emo­tional resis­tance of local farm­ers, oper­a­tions” for the power plant instal­la­tions con­tin­ued, and bull­doz­ers appeared in mid-October.

The action drew protests includ­ing from Greenpeace Turkey, whose lawyer, Deniz Bayram, asserted that the provin­cial direc­torate of the min­istry of agri­cul­ture of Manisa had pre­vi­ously rejected the expro­pri­a­tion plan before, and for this rea­son the plan should be con­sid­ered unlaw­ful.

Citizens of the vil­lages reacted with anger and dis­may — unable to accept the loss of 16 thou­sand trees, some of which are more than 2,000 years old and still giv­ing good fruits — sac­ri­ficed in return for a ther­mal power plant, the third in the area.

Moreover peo­ple from Yırca are afraid of the effects that another power plant could cause on their health, as they point to a link between the two already exist­ing facil­i­ties and the rise of the num­ber of can­cer cases in neigh­bor­ing pop­u­la­tions.

On October 21, press through­out Turkey fea­tured images of farm­ers thrown to the ground — Yırca vil­lagers hit by pri­vate police while try­ing des­per­ately to avoid the destruc­tion of their ances­tral olive trees, and one of their few sources of income. There were pic­tures of peo­ple pick­ing olives from cut-down trees.

A social media cam­paign has been launched in sup­port of pro­test­ers, using #ProtectOliveTrees and #ZeytinimiKesme hash­tags on Twitter.

The Yırca Harvest Festival will take place tomor­row and Sunday (November 8 and 9), an event orga­nized by Greenpeace Akdeniz-Türkiye, and pro­moted as the Yırca Hasat Festivali on Facebook. A week­end of movie screen­ings, tales and work­shops will rally fur­ther sup­port against the con­tin­ued destruc­tion of trees.

UPDATE: Yirca Villagers Rejoice, Replant


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