Environmentalist Vahap Işıklı: We must unite and defend nature

Mezopotamya Ecology activist and Hevsel Conservation Platform co-spokesperson Vahap Işıklı said that special policies are implemented against the nature of Kurdistan.

Trees have been cut down and destroyed for a long time in the region of Şırnak where military operations are carried out. In the area of Mount Cudi, tens of thousands of trees have been cut down so far and more than 10 military posts have been built there. In places where trees are not cut, fires are provoked and nothing is done to extinguish them, allegedly for  ‘security’ reasons.

Mezopotamya Ecology activist and Hevsel Conservation Platform co-spokesperson Vahap Işıklı drew attention to the forest fires provoked in Kurdistan and said that nature was plundered due to the politics of rent in Turkey and war policies in Kurdistan.

Işıklı said that a fire broke out in the region of Besta in Şırnak for days and trees were cut down by village guards after the fire. "The same situation happened in Lice a week ago. Two days ago, a fire broke out on the Silopi side in Cudi and it still going on. This is a special policy used against nature in Kurdistan. Trees are burned and cut down every year in the summer due to war policies."

Işıklı continued: "One day in Turkey, when a fire broke out in Marmara, helicopters were sent immediately. The fire that broke out on the same day in Bingöl was not extinguished for a week. Thousands of hectares of forest burned down. But there was no intervention. Other military operations led to a fire breaking out in Kurdistan. The fire, which started in Hozat, in the province of Dersim, did not stop for days and continued in the same way in Cudi and Bingöl. Trees were cut down.”

Işıklı said that a year ago the organization went to the area to see the extent of the damage. “In recent days, they are doing the same in Lice, between the village of Derxun and others, on an area of ​​98 hectares. About the equivalent of 140 football playgrounds of trees have since been cut down by rangers. Private companies do not accept these tenders, but they make the village guards do the job. A fire breaks out in Turkey under the name of ‘development’ and in Kurdistan under the name of 'security'. Hotels are being built where forests have been burned down in Turkey, and police stations are being built in Kurdistan."

Emphasizing that the policy of burning forests and cutting trees has also started in South Kurdistan, Işıklı said: "Unfortunately, this agreement was put into effect in Başur [South Kurdistan] as well. Trees began to be cut down in Metina and other regions during the war. All this is done in the name of security. The Iraqi government has responded to it, albeit incompletely. They voted against it, but the regional government did not vote and did not take responsibility for it. It is astonishing how the trees and forests of a region are plundered and the government said nothing.”

Turkey evacuated the villages and lands of Kurdistan in the 1990s, forced the people to emigrate, and thus introduced its assimilation policies. “They still continue their policies by plundering the nature of Kurdistan,” said Işıklı, adding: “It is necessary to know that war is not only against the people and their identity, but also against nature. Forests are being burned by some circles not only in Kurdistan, but also in many parts of Turkey. From Hevsel to  Cudi to Metina, nature belongs to all of us. That's why we must protect nature together."