A group of locals in a province of Western Turkey were detained by Gendarmerie officers on May 12 whilst protesting against a mining company and its cutting down of trees.
Locals in the Kirazlıyayla village of Bursa protested against a Lebanese mining company which has been cutting down trees to open up space for a waste pool, the daily Evrensel reported.
The gendarmerie reportedly transported the crowd back to the village in military vehicles, and encircled the village to prevent locals from leaving it.
“There is an excessive number of gendarmerie officers here. Roads have been blocked for two days. Villagers were prevented from defending their land and they are now being detained,” said the local climate activist Murat Demir.
Meanwhile, the villagers’ protests lead the mining company to halt its deforestation efforts.
“They put machines in the land to which we don’t even bring our animals to graze,” said a villager.
The mining company reportedly organized an information meeting with some 10 villagers, but the general population felt excluded from the process.
“There are more than 10 residents in this village. What happened to villagers being the ruling class? We don’t want this mining company in our village,” said the villager.
Main opposition deputy receives applause
Bursa Deputy Nurhayat Altaca Kayışoğlu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) joined the local protests.
“Our fight with the villagers will continue, we will wait here together,” Kayışoğlu said.
Kayışoğlu was reported to have attempted to block Gendarmerie officers from handcuffing villagers.
The lawmaker’s husband Yusuf Kayışoğlu - who works as a reporter - was detained by the Gendarmerie for recording the incident.
The couple received applause from the villagers as they tried to block the mining company’s machines.
“The detention of reporter Yusuf Kayışoğlu is just an attempt to cover up the illegal activities here,” said the Bursa Chamber of Turkey’s Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD).
“It is just an attempt at covering up the natural massacre here.”