Court orders demolition of park considered sacred in Tunceli, stirring outcry
TUNCELİ - Doğan News Agency
Jara Gola Çetu Park, located at the intersection of the Munzur and Pülümür rivers is threatened to stay under the waters of the Uzunçayır dam's reservoir lake. DHA photoA park in an area considered sacred by the locals in the eastern province of Tunceli faces destruction after a court notice issued last week, as protests sparked by efforts to save Istanbul's Gezi Park from a urban redevelopment project are continuing all across Turkey.
A local court had ruled for the demolition of the Jara Gola Çetu Park, located at the intersection of the Munzur and Pülümür rivers in the mountainous province, last Feburary saying the area should be part of the reservoir of the Uzunçayır Dam, which was completed in 2010. The Tunceli Municipality also was fined 2.2 million liras for having undertaken work to save the park and was instructed this week to carry out the court order.
However, the ruling has sparked a huge outcry as the area where the park stands is considered sacred and has a symbolic value for the Alevis who constitute the majority of the population in the province.
Tunceli Mayor Edibe Şahin told Doğan news agency that they had appealed the decision to the Constitutional Court and would apply to the European Court of Human Rights if the appeal was denied.
"Due to the construction of many hydroelectric power plants in the province, many areas have been left under water. After the construction of the Uzunçayır Dam and before the reservoir lake was filled with water, women from Tunceli endeavored to ensure Jara Gola Çetu remained safe and came to us. So we have converted the area into a park to avoid the place of peregrinations being inundated," Şahin said, adding that the company that constructed the plant had also lent their support for the project.
"But then the State Waterworks Authority sued us, requesting the destruction of the park in a way that we could not understand," she said.
Şahin also said locals in Tunceli would never let the area be inundated. The local media said the decision was an "insult to the Alevi faith" and called on people living in Tunceli to gather and pray at the park June 27.