A district governor in the Mediterranean province of Antalya has dismissed a civil servant for the second time over his efforts to document truckloads of sand stolen from the Patara beach, which is a protected area.
The president of the Agriculture and Forestry Union (Tarım Orman-İş), Şükrü Durmuş, told daily Cumhuriyet on July 10 that they filed a criminal complaint against Kaş District Gov. Arda Yazıcı over “abuse of authority.”
“Without any inspection report of judiciary decision, Kaş District Gov. Şaban Yazıcı has dismissed our colleague who was doing his job. This is an abuse of public authority,” Durmuş said.
Durmuş also said that other civil servants in the area are threatened with the phrase of: “If you stand up against us, you will end up like Umut Utku [dismissed civil servant].”
This is the second time that Utku was fired from his post. In February, he attempted to document that truckloads of beach sand were being illegally removed and sold to local construction firms, however he was dismissed by Yazıcı.
Also, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s district chair intervened in the incident and prevented Utku from reporting the stolen land to the judiciary.
Utku was eventually reinstated to his post upon the appeal of the Agriculture and Forestry Union, however, the district governor dismissed him once again.
“We would like to ask Kaş Governor: Is it you that is giving courage to AKP district chair Osman Deniz Karataç, municipal councilor Tevik Taner and excavation company owner Mustafa Bahar to tell other civil servants, 'If stand up against us, you will end up like Umut Utku?'” Duman asked.
Part of a national park, Patara beach is a key biodiversity area, rich in birdlife and the breeding ground of the endangered loggerhead turtle (caretta caretta).
The beach has been declared off-limits for development as turtles are nearing extinction and the protection of their nesting sites on the Turkish coast is very important.