Investigation launched into sit-in supporting Akbelen Forest protests

Turkish authorities have launched an investigation into a sit-in held in Balıkesir’s Edremit district in support of the protests in Akbelen Forest. Those who staged the sit-in were summoned to testify at the police station.

Duvar English

Turkish authorities have launched an investigation into those who attended a sit-in held in the northwestern province of Balıkesir’s Edremit district in support of protests in Akbelen Forest.

The Kazdağı Association for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Assets released a press statement regarding the investigation into the sit-in in which they also participated. 

The association said activists, who staged a sit-in in Edremit last week to support the Akbelen protests by using their constitutional rights, were summoned to the police station to testify. “Peaceful protests are a constitutional right.”

“Around 25 participants (of the sit-in), including our association members, were called to the Edremit Police Department to testify. The justification is to oppose Law No. 2911 regarding the meeting and demonstration march. However, Article 34 of the Constitution states that ‘Everyone has the right to organize unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission’,” the association said. 

It added that the sit-in included no violence and it was staged to protect nature. “Every day, there are more attacks on our legal and democratic rights, and restrictions are imposed on the use of our rights.”

“We strongly condemn this unjust and unlawful intervention against our friends who support the Akbelen protests. Our friends, who carried out a silent sit-in with the banners in their hands, did not act beyond the scope of the judicial practice and left the sit-in silently without any warning. We are with our friends until the end,” it added.

Protests in Akbelen Forest

Villagers and activists have been protesting the cutting of trees for the expansion of the coal mining site in southern Muğla province’s İkizköy district.

Since 2019, the 740-decare Akbelen Forest and the İkizköylü village have been threatened by plans to extend coal mines. In 2021, the locals filed a lawsuit against the company YK Energy, a joint affiliate of IC Holding and Limak Holding, which is known to have close ties with the Turkish government, for the annulment of the project.

During the judiciary process, courts have several times ruled for the suspension of the coal mine project, but the company refused to abide by these court rulings.

For the last three weeks, the tree cutting process has been accelerated and those who protest against it saw the harsh attack of the gendarmerie teams regardless of their age. 

The gendarmerie have been attacking activists and villagers by using pepper spray in the faces of them from close range and firing gas cartridges in the forested area during scorching heat.