Shop owners protest dam construction in northeastern Turkey

Shop owners in the northeastern province of Artvin have protested the construction of Yusufeli Dam, which will submerge the entire district center and nearby villages. Three people were detained during the protest.

Ardıl Batmaz / DUVAR

Several shop owners in the northeastern province of Artvin’s Yusufeli district on Aug. 23 closed their stores as part of the protests against the construction of the Yusufeli Dam and the relocation of the district as a result. 

The Yusufeli Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant started to be built on the Çoruh River in 2013. 

The district will be underwater because of the dam, which will be the highest dam in Turkey with a height of 275 meters. While it is expected that approximately 5,000 residences, 270 workplaces and 9,430 acres of agricultural land in the district center and several villages will be submerged by the water of the dam, the people of the district have been preparing to relocate for the seventh time during 152 years.

Three people who invited the shop owners to close their stores to protest were detained and released afterwards.

The shop owners and residents of the district marched to a park to protest the construction and relocation.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) district head Barış Demirci stated during the protest that the new settlement place is not livable place.

Resident Ali Uğur Sözbilir said that the government did not grant rights to those who got married or opened businesses after 2014 in the new settlement place.

“As the people of Yusufeli, we are the ones who have been suffering from dams for years but cannot have rights in the new settlement” he added.

The Sözbilir family moved to Yusufeli district in 2011 because their hometown was submerged by the waters of another dam. Since Yusufeli will have the same destiny, they will have to move for the second time. Sözbilir said that there are about 1,000 families in similar situations.

(English version by Alperen Şen)