Cengiz İnşaat, a construction company with close relations to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, started work on quarry project in the Black Sea's Rize province under a national COVID-19 curfew, the daily Evrensel reported on April 23.
The company's work teams reportedly entered İşkencedere Valley with a gendarmerie escort, while locals' protests against the project were ongoing.
Locals have been protesting the project for a month, but gendarmerie attempted to disperse crowds on April 23 on grounds of pandemic restrictions.
"No amount of money is more important than human life, leave our valley," locals told the gendarmerie and the company as they walked around the barricades and entered the valley anyways.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Murat Çepni joined locals' protests against the construction and tweeted that "history will take note, and the people will ask" about the government's sanctioning of environmental destruction.
The ruling AKP has a notorious track record of environmental destruction, as public agencies and courts are often found prioritizing profit over environmental protection.