HDP MP stages sit-in against forest fires in Şırnak

In many regions of Northern Kurdistan, forest fires have been blazing since the beginning of summertime, deliberately started by the Turkish military. Mount Cudi in Şırnak is particularly affected by this scorched-earth policy.

With a sit-in in the middle of the city center of Şırnak, HDP member of parliament Hasan Özgüneş wants to draw attention to the ecological destruction of Mount Cudi by deliberately set forest fires. Although forest fires ignited by the Turkish military have been raging in many other regions of Northern Kurdistan since the beginning of summertime, Mount Cudi in Şırnak is particularly affected by this scorched-earth policy. For more than three months fires have been raging there every day, habitats of humans and animals have been extensively destroyed by the flames.

However, the soldiers do not limit themselves to starting the fires, sometimes using tracer ammunition, but also prevent the local population or local authorities from attempting to extinguish them, often in cooperation with the governor's office. If a fire source can be successfully fought by residents despite threats of repression on their own initiative, the next one is set up elsewhere - to destroy possible retreat areas for the guerrillas, as it is officially called.

The outcry is great in the case of forest fires in tourist areas in western Turkey. The Turkish press does not cover the destruction of nature in the Kurdish areas anyway - unless hydro-electric power and/or mines promise high net yields for the AKP-led government.

A resident of the village of Cifanê fighting a forest fire, photo taken on September 7, 2020

All should stand up for Cudi

"I call upon the entire population of Şırnak to stand up for Cudi,” Hasan Özgüneş said and called for support for his action. For three days, the parliamentarian will sit in front of the headquarters of the provincial association of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to draw the attention of the inhabitants inside his constituency to the systematic destruction of Cudi and to protest against the silence of those responsible in Ankara.

Joint struggle for the defense of nature

"My appeal is addressed to every person who takes part in the various struggles in the region, who is in resistance to oppression, who feels close to the trees and nature, to participate in the defense of our forest. For the preservation of our environment, we must all fight together," said Özgüneş.

Mount Cudi has four peaks, all of which are higher than 2000 meters. On one of these peaks are the remains of a monastery built in the 4th century AD in honor of Noah's Ark, which is said to have landed here according to early Christian and Muslim tradition. The locals or tourists have not been able to make a pilgrimage to the ruins for years because of the so-called fight against insurrection.

Means for fighting insurgency: forest fires

In Kurdistan, forest fires were used to fight insurgency for the first time in 1925. At that time, the aim was to suppress the Şex Said rebellion. This tactic was continued with the reform legislation and the Dersim genocide, which was carried out in this context. Especially from the 1990s until today, forests have been systematically burned down by the state.