A panel of experts assigned by a court has visited the site of a planned stone quarry in the Black Sea province of Rize's İkizere district, daily Birgün said on Sept. 13, citing a report of ANKA news agency.
During their inspection of the area, the experts were accompanied by protesting locals who have been continuing with their resistance against the pro-government company Cengiz Holding's construction project.
The locals once again said that if the judiciary greenlights the company's plan, İşkencendere Valley will face its most serious environmental threat to date.
One of the protesting citizens, the 66-year-old Ayşe Albayrak criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for targeting the İkizdere resistance during a speech earlier in September.
On Sept. 3, while addressing the opening ceremony of İyidere-İkizdere Road and Tunnels, Erdoğan had referred to protesting locals in İkizdere as “leftists” and “communists.”
In response, Albayrak said that she felt very offended by Erdoğan's remarks and that she could not sleep since that day.
“He came and then declared us both as communists and terrorists...I am a 66-year-old woman and you [Erdoğan] came and declared us as terrorists and then left...Would such remarks befit a President? If we were terrorists, would Cengiz Holding's [construction] machines be able to come all the way up here? Would it ever be able to take a step?” said the protesting woman.
“He [Erdoğan] did not even take us seriously. He came all the way here [to Rize], but did not look at here [İkizdere] to see what is happening,” she further said.
Since earlier this year, locals have been protesting the attempts of Cengiz Holding, known to have close relations to Erdoğan, to construct a stone quarry in İkizdere.
The valley is considered to be one of the most precious natural beauties of the region.
Locals and activists have filed a lawsuit at the Rize Administrative Court, with a demand that the quarry project be shelved. In return, the court assigned a panel of experts to pen a report about the project's potential detrimental effects for the region.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has a notorious track record of prioritizing financial profit over environmental protection, with Erdoğan even boasting about turning the country into a construction site.