Ikizdere, Turkey – Pervin Bash says that from his plantation he cuts the tea owners clinging to the edge of the mountain between the villages of Sizlik and Gurdere, and says that his livelihood is now threatened by the huge quarry built in the lower valley.
Since moving to the exceptionally beautiful region of the local Black Sea province of Rize 30 years ago, 50-year-old Bass has been growing tea, potatoes, corn and green beans, as he raised cows in the green mountains that reach the clouds.
The birds and the flowing stream under his tea plantation have now been drowned by trucks carrying stones, dirt and dirt, and excavators digging in the valley, paving the way for a stone quarry, Rize Port.
“No one, including the government, spoke to us before we started work. “They brought big cars overnight and just started,” Bass told Al Jazeera as he took a break from his harvest.
Ali Akildiz, 62, from the village of Gyurdere, 54 km from the center of Rize, told Al Jazeera that the gorge feeds him and his family.
“If they continue this quarry, they will ruin our lives. “This valley is the source of our life,” said Achildiz, referring to the honey-tea he produces.
The villagers started protesting and stopped the construction after April. But the government has imposed heavy fines on those involved and filed lawsuits against them.
“Urgent confiscation method”
The quarry will help build a new port to be built on the banks of the Rize, the hometown of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The construction of the quarry, as well as the port of Rize, was awarded to Cengiz Holding, a group with close ties to the ruling AK Party.
Approximately 16 million tons of rock will be removed to help build the seaport.
Yakup եքekip Okumuşoլlu is among several lawyers involved in two lawsuits against the bill. Complaints claim construction approval, land alienation and environmental impact are illegal.
Even in this active legal process in the Rize Administrative Court, which is not known about the verdict, at the same time the construction of the road to the mine site continues.
According to Okumushoglu, 17 privately owned areas were confiscated for the construction of the road without warning.
Okumusoglu explained that under Turkish law there is a “method of immediate confiscation” that can only be used in the event of war or emergency.
“Is there a war, but we have not heard about it, or is there a state of emergency? We have not seen it.” Okumushoglu asked. “Unfortunately, in recent years, this urgent method of violence has become increasingly common… It has become commonplace.”
Al aze Azira sent questions to the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Transport, but received no response.
Cengiz Holding was also contacted after he told Al Jazeera that he would not comment to the press.
In: announcement: In April, the company announced that the decision to operate the quarry was based on the assessments of the government ministries involved.
“We would like to emphasize that our company does not have the authority or choice to decide on the quarry from which the raw materials will be obtained legally. We want you to know that our company values the opinion of everyone living in the area. “With sensitivity and seriousness,” it says.
Agriculture and health are threatened
Given that Bass և’s neighbors’s tea fields are organic, he is concerned about the dust from the quarry, which spoils his crop.
His anxiety stems from trying to work in a nearby tea field near which a quarry has been built, although he is no longer active, and the owners’ problems, including the accumulation of dust, have prevented the owners from reaping.
“I could not cut the tea, I could not harvest, we were always breathing in the dust, which made our throats swell,” said Bass. “We have always had to go to the doctor because of dust, take medications, including antibiotics, painkillers for inflammation.”
The Turkish Medical Association requested a medical assessment to assess the impact of the quarry on public health, although none of the parties involved did so.
Akildiz, who has been protesting against the construction of the quarry since April 21 when cars entered the area, said villagers had not been able to collect honey this season because the road to the valley was blocked.
“We can no longer enter the hives,” said Achildiz. “There is a special honey that is made in this region [bees feeding on] chestnuts This chestnut honey can not be found anywhere else in the world. The villagers of Gurdere produce between eight and 10 tons of honey a year, but they can no longer produce it. ”
Eight families were also cut off from the city water supply due to the construction of a quarry road.
“The quality of the water now comes out brown with the soil. I can not use the washing machine because there is not enough water, so now I use water dripping from the roof [after rain]”, – explained the head.
At the foot of the Bass tea fields, where he once grazed his cattle, his land was confiscated and is part of a quarry road.
“The government has occupied the area. “We have our own lands here, which they took,” said Bass, adding that her husband has evidence of ownership.
“I have no money to feed my pets, now they can not feed.”
Bass also noted that he does not feel comfortable working in his fields because of the presence of soldiers who are constantly on their way to his country.
As cars entered Ikizdere undeclared to build the quarry road, villagers, particularly from Evile և Gürdere, tried to stop the destruction of their valley.
On the first day, as described by Achildiz, at least 50 residents, including elderly women, sat in front of heavy equipment as more than 100 police and soldiers were brought in to evacuate them.
During the first weeks, Achilles and the two men climbed trees to stop builders from cutting them down.
“It forced them to stop working for eight hours, but then the gendarmerie took me away,” said Achildiz, adding that he had a lawsuit against him for obstructing his work.
Since the end of April, 36 villagers have been fined between ,000 80,000 ($ 9,400) and և 100,000 ($ 11,700) for their resistance.
After a three-month nationwide blockade to control the coronavirus epidemic, Rize Governorate banned protests for 15 days on May 17. Attempts to get comments from Al Azira Azira’s office have repeatedly been met with unanswered calls.
The bans are constantly updated with that in mind“Protests can be turned into illegal demonstrations by terrorist organizations and marginalized groups.”
But the inhabitants of the valley refused to surrender.
“We will continue to resist, they will continue to block our protests,” Achildiz said.